Artsy Fridays a go in Newport

by George Jared ([email protected]) 345 views 

The Delta Visual Arts Show, held each June in Newport was like many festivals when the year began. Organizers were hoping to find ways to expand and attract more visitors.

When COVID-19 burst on the scene in March the festival, like nearly every other festival in the state, had to be postponed. Newport Economic Development Commission Executive Director Jon Chadwell and his team crafted a new plan to allow artists to share their work with the thousands of visitors that come for the show each year.

Artsy Friday was developed by the team. Each Friday, a selected number of artists, authors, musicians and others are invited to share their talent and wares inside the Newport Business Resource Center. The first was held on July 24 and about 240 people attended, Chadwell said. The Health Department has approved a second edition and it will be held Friday (July 31).

Visitors must adhere to a set of guidelines to attend. Everyone has to wear a mask during the time of the event or if closer than 6 feet from someone. Visitors will have a temperature check before entering the building or the music venue and will provide a name and phone number in case of contact tracing.

Anyone who refuses to wear a mask, have their temperature checked, or give contact information will not be allowed in the building. Musicians can remove the masks during their performances. A maximum of 100 people will be allowed in the building at any given time – including authors, artists and staff.

Concert seating will have at least 6 feet between chairs, although family members can move chairs to sit together.

The pandemic had threatened to stifle what could have been a period of growth for the festival which had undergone major changes in recent years.

Last year’s Delta Visual Arts Show was the 11th version and several significant changes were made, Chadwell said. The show was moved from February to June, it was expanded from one day to two, and the number of musicians that participated increased. The net result was that the number of artists, authors, and musicians rose from 220 to 245, and thousands of visitors flocked to Jackson County’s largest city, he said.

Quantifying the economic impact the arts show has on the city and region is difficult, but adding an extra day, and holding it at a time when the weather is warmer helped, he said. It’s estimated that about $250,000 is spent on the artwork at the show based on the sales tax receipts that are submitted, he added.