First Thursday is booming

July 18, 2014
By

The monthly “First Thursday” neighborhood art walk has reached its highest level of participation ever, Centre/South Main Streets (CSMS) Executive Director Andrew Zarro told the Gazette. Participation is up to about 50 businesses from 12 when Zarro took the helm in late 2012.

“The program was dead,” and there had even been conversations about discontinuing it altogether, Zarro told the Gazette.

First Thursday is CSMS’s flagship event. Held on the first Thursday of each month, the evening event features art exhibits in local businesses along with live entertainment. In recent years, it had been a year-round event.

Zarro said he is expecting 56 businesses to participate in August.

“This is, by far, much bigger than we’re even been before,” he. “We’re not just doing art on the walls, we’re doing performance, dance, crafting. People are seeing a pretty eclectic group.”

Zarro said the increase in participation is the result of several changes he instituted earlier this year, several months after he took over the job of executive director. For a start, there is now a map of which businesses are participating.

“It’s like a treasure map,” he said. “We’re not listing artists, just businesses,” which causes visitors to look into more shops, he explained.

Zarro also narrowed the season from year-round to April through October, which allows him and his team to “focus our energy,” he said.

Another big boon has been his “match-making”—actively pairing businesses with artists, instead of relying on artists and businesses to find each other.

“For us to do this one little thing was great at upping participation,” he said.

The farmers market at the Loring-Greenough House, scheduled to coincide with First Thursdays, is also seeing a boom in attendance, Zarro said. Over 1,000 people visited it during this month’s First Thursday, he said.

“The market is doing so well. We’re so happy we partnered with them to co-sponsor the farmer’s market,” he said.

The farmers market, like First Thursday, will run through October.

Businesses and artists can get more information by emailing FirstThursday@centresouth.org or by visiting CSMS’s website at centresouth.org.

Participating Businesses

The following is a list of confirmed businesses that will be participating the Aug. 7 First Thursday.

1. Prudential Unlimited Real Estate

2. Boing! JP’s Toy Store

3. Coldwell Banker

4. Caramelo Clothing Co.

5. The Hallway Gallery*

6. Stephanie Cave Design

7. UFORGE Gallery

8. Streetcar

9. JP Licks

10.  Tres Gatos

11.  Monumental Cupcakes*

12.  City Feed & Supply

13.  Polka Dog Bakery*

14.  Fire Opal

15.  Fresh Hair*

16.  On Centre

17.  KitchenWitch

18.  The Aviary Gallery*

19.  Blanchard’s Wine & Spirits

20.  Fiore’s Bakery *

21.  The Blue Frog Bakery

22.  Jameson & Thompson

23.  JP Seafood Café

24.  Harvest Co-op*

25.  Boomerangs

26.  First Baptist Church

27.  We Are Hair

28.  Café Beirut

29.  Hatched

30.  FoMu

31.  Cobwebs

32.  7 Pond Coffee

33.  Grass Fed

34.  The Loring-Greenough House

35.  Atlantic Dental

36.  JP Knit & Stitch

37.  McCormack & Scanlan*

38.  Station 8

39.  Room 68*

40.  The Goodwill

41.  Taylor House

42.  Mt. Washington Bank

43.  Ace Hardware

44.  First Church

45.  Curtis Hall*

46.  Miss Laura’s*

47.  40 South*

48.  Peru Travel*

49.  Ferris Wheels*

50.  Fresh Copy JP*

51.  South Street Art Park*

*Participating in the Fourth Annual South Street Block Party