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Art Walk gains momentum through sponsorhips, growing popularity of DTLA

By Andrew Lopez
Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012, at 03:51PM
Courtesy of Art Walk

Art Walk has grown over the years due to corporate sponsorship and the revitalization of Downtown.

Art Walk, now in its eighth year, is benefiting from the continued efforts of gallery owners and artists, corporate sponsorships and the overall revitalization and growing popularity of Downtown.

Over the past two years, Art Walk -- the increasingly popular community event held the second Thursday of each month -- has had relationships with corporate sponsors that Executive Director Joe Moller said enhances the experience for visitors.

“Downtown is becoming the epicenter for Los Angeles," Moller said. "There’s a lot of interest in developing a relationship with Art Walk.”

Moller said there is criteria potential sponsors must meet to be considered for partnership. The most important of these criteria is that they have some relevance to Downtown and showcase their products using art as a vehicle, he said.

This month's sponsorships includes Zippo, who are presenting the live art of Robert Vargas and a concert featuring La Vida Boheme at the Art Walk Lounge at Exchange LA. Sponsors have to add to the experience that has been consistently improving over the last six months, Moller said.

"We have been enhancing the programming since December 2011," he said.

Just two years ago, there were about 20 galleries participating, Moller said. Now, there's over 50. The event has become the single biggest opportunity for artists to get their name out to such a large audience, he said.

The growing success has not come without its challenges, though. Moller said throughout the years permitting and enforcement issues have affected the event.

"There are absolutely growing pains along the way," he said.

The lowest point of the event's history came when a 2-month-old infant was killed after a car drove up a curb and rolled onto a sidewalk. Moller said the only silver lining in an otherwise tragic event was the the formation of a city task force that followed.

He said the task force keeps the event safer by providing more security and helping keep the flow of pedestrian traffic moving.

Still, graffiti and vandalism have been concerns of the event, but Moller said the issue was relatively small when considering between 20,000 and 40,000 people attend Art Walk each month.

Another continuing struggle for Art Walk has been dealing with food truck vendors. Though Moller said Art Walk organizers meet regularly with the Southern California Mobile Food Vendor's Association to discuss waste management and how to reduce operating costs, he still feels that some food trucks take advantage of the event's popularity.

Moller said Art Walk is about community, so he questions contributions made by trucks that come to Downtown only once a month for the event. He also took with issue that many of these same trucks do not offer to chip in with waste management costs.

“We’re not asking for thousands of dollars,” Moller said. "If you come to a dinner party, help clean up.”

With the help of a few serialized sponsors, including Red Bull and WSS Shoes, Art Walk has also been able to keep up with the financial requirements of the event. The cost of city officials working the event, insurance and waste management can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars each month, Moller said.

Moller said the rejuvenation of Downtown has also had a major impact on the success and popularity of Art Walk. From development of restaurants, bars and apartments to increased public transportation services, Art Walk has both gained from and helped in bringing the community together.

"You think about how geographically limited we are as Angelenos,” Moller said. "It’s a really universal, united experience.”

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