Huntsville, AL — Operating under Alabama House Bill 20, the City of Huntsville will launch its new downtown Arts & Entertainment Districts on June 20, 2013, allowing local bars and restaurants to sell to-go beverages for patrons to enjoy. In an effort coordinated by The Arts Council, Huntsville will be the first city in Alabama to officially incorporate a variety of outdoor arts programming in the city’s largest open container area.
Beginning Thursday, June 20th and continuing for 15 weeks through Friday, September 27, The Arts Council will bring street performers, block parties, concerts, live art demonstrations and more to the Quigley Arts & Entertainment District around Huntsville’s downtown square and spanning into Big Spring Park. This downtown entertainment will showcase the arts in Huntsville while supporting restaurants and bars as they participate in the new district.
As the district opens June 20th, The Arts Council will kick off the weekly Art2 programming with free, public performances around the square and in Big Spring East. Arts Council Executive Director Allison Dillon-Jauken shared the organization’s goals for the new programming, “Huntsville already has a vibrant downtown arts and entertainment scene. Nine arts organizations present programming at the VBC annually, and over a dozen downtown restaurants and clubs regularly showcase music and live performances. We’re collaborating with a broad cross-section of performers and community partners to program live outdoor street performances in and around Huntsville’s downtown square. We want to see Art2 – we want to help our local arts, entertainment, and downtown vibrancy grow exponentially.” Highlights of Art2 programming through July 5 includes:
Huntsville’s collaborative community programming for the district is also designed to lay the groundwork for organic, self-sustaining street performances and arts entertainment in the future. “We wanted to get the Arts & Entertainment Districts off to a good start by showcasing the types of cultural activities that could naturally occur downtown,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “Thanks to our many community organizations, we have a stellar line-up of activities and programming for the summer, and we anticipate seeing even more activity as the districts develop.”
The new arts programming is a natural fit with events already happening regularly in downtown Huntsville during the summer months. The Greene Street Market, hosted each Thursday on the corner of Eustis and Greene streets, welcomes the public to visit downtown and purchase fresh products from local farms, bakers, gardens and more. The Sidewalk Arts Stroll features area artists in its new home for 2013 in Constitution Village; produced once a month in June, July, and August, the Stroll offers the opportunity to shop for art while enjoying Constitution Village free of charge.
Working with the producers of Greene Street Market and the Sidewalk Arts Stroll, and with input from area artists and the City of Huntsville, The Arts Council has developed a template for outdoor street performances that is designed to further enliven and energize downtown on Thursday and Friday evenings. The Arts Council has received financial support from downtown organizations to sponsor the new street entertainment, including Big Spring Partners, Committee of 100, The Downtown Forty-Seven, and the Huntsville Historic Foundation. “The Downtown Forty-Seven is a strong supporter of the arts in Huntsville, and we are delighted to partner with The Arts Council. The addition of Arts and Entertainment Districts in the city center will help to strengthen Huntsville’s economic engine while we continue to grow downtown as an entertainment destination for Huntsville and the region,” explained Downtown Forty-Seven President Olly Orton.
Samantha Hathorn, owner of Sam & Greg’s Pizzeria & Gelateria downtown, is optimistic about the summer of downtown events. “We are so happy when new ideas bring folks to our area, making them glad to stay and play downtown. The new entertainment districts will allow people to move around, enjoying the different downtown venues. Our outdoor dining is very popular in the summer, and the new district will encourage people to be out and about even more.” Many of the downtown restaurants and bars are planning drink specials for the opening of the Quigley Arts & Entertainment District, including Papou’s Greek Restaurant, Cotton Row, Commerce Kitchen, Sam & Greg’s, Amendment XXI, and 3Skillets.
As the district continues its 90-day rollout, additional performance schedules will be released on The Arts Council’s website. For more information on this and other Arts Council programs, visit www.artshuntsville.org.
The Arts Council, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1962 to produce, promote, coordinate and advance the arts to enrich the quality of life, economic development and education of the greater Huntsville/Madison County community. With over 190 member arts organizations, individual artists, arts patrons, and other arts-minded non-profits, companies, and technical and professional organizations, The Arts Council focuses on five core community programs while serving as an umbrella organizations for area arts groups and individual artists, providing them with resources and tools to ensure their success.