Pritchard Park performances begin

Maybe you’ve been soothed by the strains of Wind Motika‘s calming flute. Perhaps you’ve gyrated with the Asheville Hoops women. Or you might have just jammed with some of the other musicians taking their turn.

Programming the park: Wind Motika performed his flute music in Pritchard Park recently as part of a slate of performances by local musicians and artists aimed at transforming how the park is used. Photo By Jason Sandford

It’s all happening in Pritchard Park as part of an ongoing effort to make the park friendlier to downtown residents, workers and tourists. The cultural-arts programming, which started this month and is scheduled to run through September, is the latest move in the remaking of the triangular park in downtown Asheville.

A city committee spent a year studying ideas to rejuvenate the park, and settled on a couple of ideas. Earlier this year, the city hired a park ranger with a $29,000 annual salary to help police the area. And City Council agreed to waive permits and fees and put another $10,000 in taxpayers’ money toward an effort to bring in artists and musicians. The committee raised $15,000 from private donors for the park’s arts programs.

“I think it’s the city’s responsibility to provide programming to activate its parks—to lead the way—but the city can’t do it without help,” says Kitty Love, who is managing the park programming and works as executive director of the nonprofit Arts 2 People. Love wants to see downtown workers and residents support the scheduled events. She’s also looking for an additional $15,000 in support.

Musicians play lunchtime gigs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and there are some evening events scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Love has openings and encourages artists and musicians to sign up.

She is also working on organizing an artists’ market that would be held Saturdays through the summer. “It’s the beginning of my vision of what Asheville needs, which is a Berkeley market, where people can bring anything and everything,” Love says, noting the funky California college town’s sprawling market of artists and street vendors.

The goal: “Transform the way the park is used. You can’t wait for the park to be perfect. People need to come and support the activities,” says Love, who sees larger possibilities.

“The bigger picture is a rejuvenation of the entire grassroots arts community. The more that those emerging, creative entrepreneurs are getting paid for their work, the more it encourages the creative arts that everyone loves.”

The Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Program will hold a kick-off celebration in the part from noon to 3 p.m. on Friday, June 20, featuring Jen and the Juice, The Honeycutters and the Galen Kipar Project. For more information about the program, visit www.arts2people.org.

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