Free admission to art exhibits? Check. Discounts on trendy boutique items? Check. An exciting way to spend Friday nights in the heart of downtown Winnipeg? Check.
If any of this sounds remotely appealing, First Fridays might be right up your alley.
First Fridays is a year-round event held on the first Friday of every month from 5:00 pm. to 9:00 p.m. in the Exchange District. The idea was modeled after successful launches in various American and Canadian cities.
Sue Gordon, co-founder of First Fridays, originally attended several of these events in Kansas City. Both her and Karen Schulz, who are resident artists in the Exchange District, decided to start the same project in Winnipeg. They’ve been hosting First Fridays since July 2010.
“Our primary goal is to promote the Exchange area as an amazing place to become involved in the arts and to be a part of the centre of Winnipeg,” said Gordon.
So far, First Fridays has been hugely successful with over 50 participating venues, including galleries, art studios, cafés and boutiques. Some of the participating venues include the cr8ery, Cinematheque, Toad Hall Toys, Pixels 2.1 and Cake-ology. This event gives the downtown businesses an opportunity to get their names out to the public.
Jordan Miller, co-founder and director of the cr8ery gallery and studios, is a successful artist who this year won the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Award for the Arts. Her show, Life Structures & Other Personalities, debuted on a First Friday last year.
“Making people aware of what’s in this space is what we do on First Fridays,” said Miller. “They’re not really busy now because it’s very early on. The more we work on it, the more people will come down.”
Claire Morrison, a member of the Fire & Smoke duo, initially heard about First Fridays through word of mouth from a friend who frequents the event.
“They open their doors and you get to go in, and the best part about it is that it’s free!”
Fire & Smoke, a folk and bluegrass group that met at the Winnipeg Folk Festival last year, recently filmed their first music video in the eclectic scenery of the Exchange.
Gordon encourages people to come out and join the festivities.
“We would like First Fridays in the Exchange to be the most popular attraction in Winnipeg and to be attended by hundreds of supporters.”
This is an article that I recently submitted to The Projector, Red River College's student newspaper.