Artists' Row takes over management of First Friday

Tuesday, Aug 5, 2014 1:12 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014 1:03 AM
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A new group is in charge of downtown Augusta’s monthly First Friday arts festival, and changes are promised to bring new life to the event.

The Greater Augusta Arts Council handed over First Friday to Artists’ Row, a nonprofit group of seven art galleries - mostly on Broad Street. Artists’ Row begins its reign over the arts event, which has been managed by several other groups in its history, on Sept. 5.

“We are the nonprofit right in the middle of (First Friday). It just made sense that we handle it,” said Syd Padgett, owner of OddFellows Art Gallery and president of Artists’ Row.

The arts council has managed First Friday and provided volunteers since January 2005, according to a news release.

First Friday began in 1994 – one year after Artists’ Row was created by former Mayor Charles DeVaney – to attract people downtown and help tie Broad Street and Riverwalk together. Originally, the event began at noon in the central business district, and art galleries and merchants stayed open late.

The event grew to attract large numbers of people, and safety issues arose several times because of crowds that loitered until the early morning hours after First Friday activities were over.

When a Broad Street shooting injured six people after the event’s official hours concluded in July 2012, the arts council oversaw changes including stricter control of street vendors, improved cleanup efforts and increased security.

Artists’ Row plans to make changes to the event, keeping the focus on arts and creating a festival-like atmosphere, Padgett said. The group wants to add live art demonstrations inside art galleries, children’s activities and more sidewalk art vendors and street performers.

“It’s gotten static. We are using this as an opportunity to come back and breathe some new life into it,” he said.

The hours of First Friday will remain 5-9 p.m. Vendors will be shut down at 9 p.m.

Vendors seeking to reserve a street intersection must receive a permit from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office. Artists and nonprofits that want to set up a table on the sidewalk must be setup in front of a business that is open and operating for the entirety of First Friday, and the business must grant permission to the vendor.

For more information or to apply for a vendor space, e-mail Padgett at

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foxsilong 08/05/14 - 02:32 pm
Love first friday!

What a fantastic news! I love arts!:)
I go to first Friday every month!

corgimom 08/05/14 - 04:31 pm
RC has two choices. If they

RC has two choices.

If they pitch it to the decent folks, not much will happen there.

Or they can let it become Freaknik East 2.0, until the NEXT shooting happens.

corgimom 08/05/14 - 04:32 pm
Working folks with kids don't

Working folks with kids don't do a lot of partying on Friday nights.

They are tired after working all week, Saturdays are always jam-packed, and partying is more for young singles.

There are exceptions to that, but by and large, they have to figure out who their target audience is and go from there.

jbartley 08/05/14 - 07:18 pm
good move

I hope the new group the best, I will come to support you.
I hope others will come also! !

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