enculturating las vegas into the next millennium... art, dance, film, music, poetry, theater, history, nature and everything else that enriches the lives of those who live and visit southern nevada... Since 2003...

Monday, July 18, 2011

First Friday is NOT CANCELLED!!! But let me tell you why...

Last night while I was at home getting ready for bed I happened to come across a news report by Channel 8 News Anchor Chris Saldana, that First Friday the monthly Downtown arts festival was going on hiatus. Now I have been hearing rumors about First Friday going on "hiatus" for months from people in the arts district. The big argument was the fact that the police were demanding more and more officers to walk the streets during the event, a costly fence needed to be put around the festival, not to mention the street closures that would have to take place to make it all happen. In the end Whirlygig, the organization that puts on First Friday, just could not afford to do all that was demanded of them. Ergo the announcement that was made yesterday in the news. In addition there was the official announcement on the First Friday website that the festival would be going on hiatus for two months. 

Facebook and other social media outlets have been all abuzz about what has been reported. Many people are angry that such an announcement would be made without any thought to the damage they were about to unleash. Just reading the comments on my post of last nights news story on Facebook has been interesting, with all kinds of people chiming in as what to do next. Gallerists and small business owners have been doing all types of damage control and informing the public that First Friday will indeed happen. Artists are getting online and sending emails, text messages and the like to tell their collectors, patrons and friends to come Downtown and participate this coming First Friday (August 5). Even news stations have been called to inform them that First Friday is going to happen.

Granted, I can completely understand the need for Whirlygig to regroup, especially in-lieu of these tough economic times. What I do not understand is how they feel they have an obligation "not to encourage" people to attend First Friday anyway, siting safety as the biggest issue. This was stated by Naomi Arin, a representative of Whirlygig, in a story by Kristen Petersen in the Las Vegas Weekly today. How can anyone think that thousands of people who have been coming to First Friday for years are all of a sudden not going to show up because someone says so? There is no organization, let alone a non-profit one, that can dictate to an individual or a small business owner that they cannot congregate or be open. The comment by Naomi was highly misinformed and quite honestly offensive to many of us who have dedicated ourselves and our livelihoods to making Downtown a success.

Lets be honest, First Friday is no longer an arts district only event and it has grown far beyond what an organization can say or do with it. First Friday will always happen because there are thousands of dedicated artists, gallerists, small business owners and residents that will not let it just go into hiatus. First Friday is not just a celebration of arts and culture, but of Downtown itself. It was built by dedicated individuals who worked hard to make it into what it is today and to think that it can be stopped is pure fantasy.

If the streets cannot be closed, or the tents and stages be erected, the community will adjust to this new reality. The food trucks will still come down, albeit turn their windows to the sidewalks, the street artists will still perform and the masses will still descend because there is plenty to do. First Friday will happen and there is nothing that can stop the momentum that was started 9 years ago.

Downtown WILL BE OPEN for First Friday. So please come down as you normally do and enjoy a Hot August Night, full of art, culture and sizzling hot adventure. 

Stay tuned for my First Friday post that will be chock-full of events to entice the creative side in all of us.

Brian Paco Alvarez enculturating Las Vegas into the millennium...

posted by Brian Paco Alvarez, Curator and Chronicler of Culture at


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