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Gallery Hops Bring More Business Downtown

The monthly gallery hops in downtown Winston-Salem, designed to build an art scene downtown, also boost business for downtown restaurants, bars and shops.

Every first Friday of the month, the Downtown Arts District Association—DADA—shuts down Trade Street and the surrounding roads from 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. for the gallery hop, a free event attended by residents from both downtown and the greater Winston-Salem area.

Kate Lambeth, the Vice President of DADA and the owner of Inter_Section Gallery on Trade St., acknowledged the growing awareness people have of the event.

“Gallery hops are a destination point for the rest of Winston-Salem,” she said.

Nearly 20 art galleries and studios open their doors to attendees, who can experience and purchase local art. Food trucks, musicians, and kids fill the streets, and local stores and restaurants remain open throughout the event.

The gallery hops began in 1989 as a way to educate people about local art. The hops are consistent with DADA’s mission to promote art and culture through education and community interaction.

“We created the gallery hops so that the general public would be aware that there was local art to be purchased in the city,” Lambeth said.

As a non-profit organization, DADA receives annual fees from members, and additional donations from locals, to help fund events like the gallery hops. According to Lambeth, a typical gallery hop costs $500. The cost of the hops include securing permits to close down the streets, setting up barricades to block the streets, and pay police to protect the area.

With a primary focus on educating people about local art, the gallery hops also bring more business to restaurants and shops in the area.

Amy Williamson, a manager at 6th and Vine, says that as long as the weather holds out, Fridays with gallery hops are generally much busier than those without.

6th and Vine is a restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor seating. A member of DADA and in the gallery hop vicinity, 6th and Vine receives increased business and publicity during the gallery hops, she said.

Williamson likes the gallery hops more than other events downtown because it doesn’t detract any attention from the businesses actually in the area.

“The nice thing about the gallery hops is that there is no stage, which is a big hassle,” she said. The hops allow the people downtown to be focused only on the galleries and the businesses in the area.

Many of the people dedicated to the growing arts scene downtown have been there since the beginning.

Judi Maloy, who owns Yoga Gallery on Liberty St., has been a part of the revitalization of downtown since she opened her gallery in 2002. She said that even since 2002, downtown has transformed.

“Trade and Liberty Streets were not places people wanted to go before the gallery hops,” Maloy said.

But now, businesses continue to grow and people continue to show up. She attributes the success of revitalization efforts to the gallery hops.

“The gallery hops brought a ton of awareness to area. I think if downtown didn’t have the gallery hops, then people would not have come down here as much as they did,” Maloy said.

Lynn Felder, co-owner of Yoga Gallery with Maloy calls the downtown community a marketplace.

“The artists and the yoga gallery help each other out,” she said.

The businesses do well because the artists and the rest of DADA have worked together to make the hops as beneficial to everyone in the area as they can.

“The event brings people [downtown] that wouldn’t normally be down there. The gallery hops give them an event,” Felder said.

The next gallery hop will take place on Friday, Oct. 3.

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