What is ‘Street Art Saturday?’ Main Street Portsmouth’s Joseph Pratt explains

Street Art Saturday is the latest event added to the itinerary of Portsmouth’s downtown exploration. Created by Main Street Portsmouth (MSP) in collaboration with Charlie Haskins from Haskins House Music and Art Gallery. The event showcases local artists and performers. The event is held on the first Saturday of every month between noon and 2 p.m.

The first Street Art Saturday was held May 7.

Joseph Pratt, the executive director of MSP, was kind enough to answer some questions about street Art Saturday for the Daily Times.

1. In your own words, how would you define Street Art Saturday?

Street Art Saturday is an art crawl running down Second Street that embraces many mediums, including visual, performance, musical and written between noon and 2 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month throughout the warmer months. It was created to give local artists a venue to do what they do best. Local musicians really only have bars and pubs to play in and the visual arts have virtually nothing, since the Boneyfiddle Art Center closed. It is also designed to be within limited hours and within the scope of lunch rush on the first Saturday of the month, so downtown businesses also gain from its presence.

2. What was your inspiration for creating this event?

I had wanted to work with Charlie Haskins, of Haskins House, for some time because he is such an awesome force and nice guy. He and I started talking about forming something laid back for artists to utilize and the community to enjoy and it all just clicked into place.

3. What is your goal?

We want artists to gain recognition and sales. We also want traffic downtown to expose more people to businesses in the downtown.

4. What impact are you hoping this has on the community?

We want people to become more aware of the talent this area has and we want our artists to feel appreciated. Being an artist can be a thankless job at times and I believe our community deserves this opportunity to observe and appreciate local creative forces and Appalachia culture.

5. How did the artists/performers respond when you approached them about joining?

We didn’t have anyone decline the invitation. Anyone who was asked that didn’t make it, only missed because of prior engagements, but asked to be contacted at the next opportunity.

6. Now that the first event is over, how do you think it was received by the community?

We had a wonderful response from the community. For lack of advertising, I was surprised by the amount of people that made it downtown. Some people even left and came back with friends. It was also well received by business owners, who began putting their own merchandise outside to gain better exposure. By the end of the day, we had people asking about the next one and businesses asking that they definitely get a musician or artist outside their shop the following month.

7. Were there any unexpected reactions or surprises?

Charlie was telling me that he was speaking with a couple from Columbus at the event and they were asking all sorts of questions about the artists. When Charlie explained that the artists were all local, and that we will be showcasing them all summer, they commented on how they wished they lived here with the art presence. It was nice to hear someone appreciate our artists so much.

8. What is the most challenging part of creating an event like this?

I’d say the challenging part is just getting every little detail taken care of before the big day. Charlie and I are only two guys and we have full plates as it is. In organizing something like this, we have to contact the artists and make sure they have a guaranteed good location. We have to advertise it with media and other outlets. We have to inform the downtown business owners of developing details….it can be overwhelming to keep everyone happy, but the finished product is always worth it.

9. When is the next event?

The next event will be up and down Second Street on Saturday, June 4, between noon and 2 p.m. A lot of artists continue to stick around after the official closing, however. This will continue the first Saturday of the month through August.

10. What are you hoping to see happen at this next event? ‘

I’m hoping to see even more talent. The word is getting out and we are getting contacted by plenty of people. I only hope this continues to grow until we are concerned about fitting everyone in a spot and I know we have the talent for that.

11. Can you give up any hints as to what to expect for the next Street Art Saturday?

I know we have a few bands asking about details and musicians in general are getting more and more interested, so, I hope the next group of guests have so many flavors of music that they can pass two storefronts and hear something completely different.

12. Do you have anything else you’d like to say?

In all honesty, I’d like to just thank the writing staff at the Times. Having such a dedicated team behind a community paper makes all non-profit work in town possible. I was very surprised by Frank Lewis’s story covering the first Street Art Saturday event. It was done so well and painted a visual picture of what we accomplished; it was almost like a piece of art itself. I want to thank Ciara Conley, Frank Lewis, Portia Williams and Wayne Allen for continuing their role as friend of the community.

If you have a suggestion or a question you would like answered about the arts and entertainment community please submit to [email protected]

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MSP’s Joseph Pratt answers our questions

By Ciara Conley

[email protected]

Reach Ciara Conley at 740-353-3101 ext 1932 or via Twitter @PDT_Ciara

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