Arts & Entertainment and Nonprofits

Downtown steps out for First Fridays

October 4, 2013
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Downtown steps out for First Fridays
The Dwelling Place hosts an art exhibition in downtown Grand Rapids' South Division neighborhood. Photo via

Tonight is the First Friday for downtown’s South Division neighborhood.

Venues along the Avenue for the Arts corridor will begin staying open the first Friday of each month until 10 p.m., allowing people an opportunity to enjoy the work of local artists, sales on handcrafted goods and drink specials at restaurants.

First Fridays will regularly feature exhibition receptions, new merchandise sales, workshops and classes.


The introduction of First Fridays to Avenue of the Arts is the work of Craft House owner Amanda Carmer, Have Company owner Marlee Hanson, Parliament the Boutique owner Elyse Welcher and Chris Cox of Gaspard.

The housing nonprofit Dwelling Place is also providing support to the ongoing event.

“For Dwelling Place, our continued support of the Avenue for the Arts is really focused on listening to residents and business owners to find out what their concerns are and then find ways to support community driven change,” said Jenn Schaub, Avenue of the Arts coordinator, Dwelling Place Neighborhood Revitalization Department. “When Amanda, Elyse, Marlee and Chris started to discuss a monthly gallery night, our response was: What can we do to help?”

Dwelling place has funded marketing materials and offered guidance on communications and promotions strategies.

“I am hoping that First Fridays will add an ongoing event that will allow greater access to businesses,” Schaub said. “I think often we do have special events going on in the area, but they are spread throughout the month, so there isn't a critical mass of locations to choose from. First Fridays will guarantee lots to see and shopping specials.”

South Division events

Schaub said Dwelling Place also recently launched a website with an event calendar, so businesses can add their events. It will serve as a one-stop location to find out about upcoming activities in the neighborhood.

Dwelling Place has added a membership program this year for the Avenue, which allows it to more effectively communicate with artists and supporters of the Avenue with monthly newsletters and opportunities.

First Fridays venues


Craft House

Pub 43

(106) Gallery and Studio

Mexicains San Frontieres

Have Company

Gaspard Gallery

Vertigo Music

Parliament Boutique

Sanctuary Folk Art

She Dojo

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