Downtown Albany establishes art coalition

After meeting at a Nights @ Dtown event, local artists established the Downtown Arts Coalition

People are talking about an arts movement in Downtown Albany.

"It's kind of an art explosion going on right now," says Patrick Jenkins, owner of Global Essence. His store recently began holding open mic nights called "Unplugged" for local artists, and he is selling t-shirts from a line called "Insight" by a local artist.

At The Levee, they are not only having music lessons and planning performance in the upcoming art park, they are noticing art in other places.

"Every store I walk into downtown there's people selling their own personal arts: personal paintings, certain crafts like homemade bracelets, house decorations, jewelry, clothing," says Jeramie Eubanks, guitar instructor at The Levee.

As a response to this movement, the Downtown Arts Coalition started up a month ago after meeting at the Night @ Dtown Deck of Arts event.

"That's where we all came together and we all met, and we just naturally just started bonding and sharing our ideas and our plans and what we want to see happen and we're like, 'okay, how do we do this?'" says Kris Letlow, who lives in Leesburg but says she wants to help Downtown Albany flourish.

Their mission: Bring more arts to Downtown Albany as well as stimulate and encourage patronage of the arts.

"We'd like to see artists getting their own store fronts and crafters with places, we want more cafes and bistros down here, we want more events down here; we want people to realize what's going on down here," says Letlow.

One project the arts coalition is working on is the art park where not only artists will be stationed but where more music and art shows will be held. The hope is events like this will bring more people and more businesses to the area.

"If we can raise just a little bit of curiosity about what are they doing, we need to go downtown and find out, then they'll come downtown and find out everything else that's going on down here. Because of these Deck of Arts events, we've had people come downtown who haven't been here in probably a decade," says Letlow.

Local shops that embrace the arts agree, saying the more arts there are, the more people will come to the area.

"Coming from other major cities I've definitely seen where the arts and the cultural elements help bring people to downtown which will definitely increase the economic viability of downtown Albany," says Jenkins.

"I fully believe that the love of arts is going to bring so much more nourishment to downtown Albany, it's going to be great," says Eubanks.

Learn more about getting involved with the Downtown Arts Coalition at the Nights @ Dtown event Oct. 21 as well as by visiting their Facebook page.

There will also be a one-night art show, "SuperFancy," on November 5th at Cafà 230 from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.