By: Sara Kate Jackson | Contributor
With a restless thunderstorm and record, cold temperatures looming over downtown Mobile, the Mobile Arts Council forged ahead with its new hybrid in-person, online ArtWalk on March 12.
For sixteen years, the Lower Dauphin ArtWalk has been a staple event in the Mobile community known for highlighting local artists and drawing in crowds of thousands to the downtown area. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic halted the ArtWalk for months before an entirely virtual ArtWalk was launched in August. Soon after, the Mobile Arts Council was able to transition into the new hybrid format.
Sydney Cramer, Program Director of the Mobile Arts Council, commented on the change of format.
“Watching it transition back into in-person while also remaining online has been very interesting,” said Cramer. “Of course, we always worry about COVID, so it’s trying to keep people safe while also trying to keep the arts community alive in a time when that is nearly impossible is interesting, to say the least.”
With ArtWalk’s new in-person option, vendors can set up and sell their art downtown while still maintaining social distancing, something local artists are benefiting from.
“Once we started doing it in-person, participation went right back up to how it was before. The vendors said they were making sales the exact same way as before the pandemic hit which was really nice to hear,” Cramer added.
And while many are seizing the opportunity to attend in-person, higher-risk individuals still attend ArtWalk through the continued virtual format.
“We do have a larger community of older individuals who participate in ArtWalk, whether that be as vendors or even as just people who come and shop,” said Cramer. “They’re not always the most tech-savvy group but once they got the hang of it, participation was a lot better.”
Lucy Gafford, Executive Director of the Mobile Arts Council, stressed the importance of holding an event like the Lower Dauphin ArtWalk in these hard times.
“It’s incredibly important because it gives everyone an outlet to express themselves as well as an opportunity to socialize and appreciate all the talent in our community, so it’s really important to have this still going in a time when we’re all so isolated,” Gafford said.