By Christine Bryant
Like many events this year, Arts in the Alley will take place virtually.
Make no mistake, however. The event’s look this year isn’t a settlement or disappointing second choice, says Shawn Conrad, executive director of the Grove City Chamber of Commerce.
“This is something we’ve selected and are excited to do,” she says.
Instead, it’s an opportunity for Grove City residents to showcase their artwork across the world, and for artists throughout the world to showcase their artwork in Grove City.
“This is a global platform we are using,” Conrad said. “We really do have the ability to reach artists from anywhere across the country and across the world.”
Although the decision to go online this year wasn’t taken lightly and was made to ensure the safety of residents – more than 30,000 attend each year – Conrad says there is a silver lining. Rather than the traditional weekend-long event, this year’s festival will take place over the course of several weeks.
“Arts in the Alley is 41 years old and is not a tradition we take lightly,” Conrad said. “It’s our most loved and cherished signature event, so when we realized we were in the middle of a pandemic, we’ve been thinking for a long time how we can still make this happen.”
While the format has changed, what has made Arts in the Alley so popular over the past four decades will remain the same.
The festival will kick off Nov. 14 and run for two weeks. This year’s theme will be “Arts in the Alley 2020 Home Edition.” Traditionally, a parade has marked the beginning of the event, and this year’s festival will begin the same way, though with neighborhood parades. Small groups of approximately 10 parade entrants will travel through various Grove City neighborhoods on the morning of Nov. 14.
“We’ll encourage neighbors to sit on their porches and watch the parade just as they would have been doing here on Broadway,” Conrad said.
All five specialty shows – fine arts, crafts, photography, quilt and youth art – will once again be open for submissions, with judging to occur during the first week of the event.
Residents will be able to shop artistic pieces online through vendor websites, and this year’s Kid Fun Street will be held virtually as well.
“We expect that we will have arts and craft projects throughout the two weeks online,” Conrad said. “These will be led by a video instructor and preceded by a message letting people know what supplies they will need.”
There are also plans to include entertainment, but Arts in the Alley committee members are still working out the details, she said.
Leading up to the festival, a chalk challenge will be open to kids and adults, or as neighborhoods as groups.
“We’ll be running those challenges for seven weeks prior to Nov. 14,” Conrad said. “We’ll be providing some hashtags to get people involved on Instagram.”
While Arts in the Alley is scheduled to last two weeks this year, organizers are considering expanding aspects of the annual event to year-round. This includes the possibility of offering a centralized source for residents to shop local vendors through one website and the ability to view galleries online.
Over the next several months, organizers will continue to finalize details of this year’s festival, including a calendar of events. All events will be free and accessible through one website page, Conrad said. Those wishing to participate in any of the art shows can go to the Chamber of Commerce website, gcchamber.org, and click on “signature events” to learn more about applying, or call (614) 875-9762.