News 12 @ 11 o'clock / Monday, Aug. 5, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- The next First Friday will be a first. The Greater Augusta Arts Council is handing over the reins to Artist's Row.
They're calling the event First Friday 2.0. They're also saying bigger isn't always better.
Artist's Row is excited to take on this challenge and bring First Friday back where it all started.
"Thank God for First Friday!" Syd Padgett, President of Artist's Row said. "It's going to be day and night. The people who come in August are going to see something completely different in September."
After running it for nearly a decade, the Greater Augusta Arts Council is passing the torch to Padgett and Artist's Row.
Sallie West with the Greater Arts Council said they were the obvious choice.
"We've always wanted First Friday to be an art-centric event. It makes so much sense for them to take it on," she said.
The group said it's focused on cultivating artists in Augusta.
"I want to have a nice vibrant downtown Augusta for everyone to enjoy. I think it can happen and I think First Friday is going to help turn it around and help us turn that corner," Padgett said.
The group is already making changes.
"There's going be a lot more energy, a lot more people on the street and a lot more volunteers," he said.
Padgett said a smaller space might create a bigger event. First Friday will now start around The Metro Coffee House and end at The Book Tavern. Artist's Row isn't the only group making changes, the Arts Council is too.
"A shift that we are making is building the capacity for the art community in Augusta," West said. She hopes that shift will work hand-in-hand with First Friday and will help change the community.
"I picture First Friday to have the potential to be what drives downtown going forward," Padgett said.
The Arts Council is bowing out mostly because of funding. They used to have an intern plan most of the event, but the position is no longer there. Now, the group is happy to focus on growing the art community here and watching Artist's Row grow the event.
They're talking about having a trolley drive around the area to give people rides, mentioned adding more interactive vendors and allowing restaurants to have samples outside.