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What started as an artist-centered event to draw attention to the work of local artists has evolved into something much different, but District 4 candidates still want to make sure the Second Saturday Art Walk reaches its full potential as a destination event.
“It’s become segmented,” candidate Phyllis Newton said Monday. “There are essentially two Second Saturdays – a family-oriented one in the early evening, and then, toward the later hours, it draws a different crowd.”
On the second Saturday of every month, local art galleries, restaurants and other small businesses open their doors to thousands of visitors who come for art exhibits, music, food and wine for the Second Saturday Art Walk.
The second-wave crowd brings certain challenges to the Midtown/downtown area, Newton said, including litter, graffiti, loud revelers disturbing residents and increased crime.
The candidates competing to represent City Council District 4 say those problems can be managed by adjusting the hours, collaborating with business organizations and increasing police presence downtown.
“We need to have regulations in place that do not quell the enthusiasm of the event, but that ensure everyone’s safety,” Newton said.
Newton’s primary suggestion is to adjust the hours of the event seasonally to allow for an earlier start and finish when the days are shorter, and longer hours when there is more daylight.
“We need to step back and evaluate where did we come from with this event, where are we now and where do we want to go with it,” Newton said.
Candidate Steve Hansen said he believes some of the larger issues are already being addressed.
“The Midtown Business Association is in the process of putting trash cans on J Street to mitigate litter problems, and neighborhood residents have been vocal about how to make sure pedestrians are safe,” Hansen said Monday.
The MBA ordered more than 20 trash cans earlier this month, and several have been installed, according to Elizabeth Studebaker, executive director of the MBA. The remainder of the trash cans should be installed over the next few months, she said.
Hansen said he would like to see Second Saturday return to the original intent of supporting artists and art galleries, plus retain the street performances and other creative activities that make it unique.
“We need to make sure that Second Saturday is really promoting the arts,” Hansen said. “The big picture is, it’s a great opportunity for people to get downtown. I would love to see Sacramento become an arts destination.”
Candidate Terry Schanz said he lived at the epicenter of the Second Saturday Art Walk for more than five years, and he has seen the positive effects on the city from the event.
“In general, Second Saturday is a wonderful celebration of the vibrant and diverse culture in our region,” Schanz said Monday. “It has grown and changed in wonderful ways.
“But we need to make sure that Sacramento doesn’t become a victim of its own success,” he added.
Schanz described the former Thursday Night Market that was once a popular music and food event on K Street, but was stopped by city officials in 1999 when the event outpaced the city’s ability to manage it.
“For some reason we weren’t able to handle that kind of growth,” Schanz said. “I think we can handle this (Second Saturday) growth, though.”
Schanz said he believes the city should partner with a local organizations to continue the success of Second Saturday while ensuring that the positives of the event outweigh the negatives.
Does the Second Saturday Art Walk still provide the benefits to local artists and galleries that it once did?
Candidate Neil Davidson said he believes it does, and he wants to see it continue.
But he doesn’t want more regulations, he said.
“I don’t see them making any difference, other than making it harder for the businesses down there,” Davidson said Monday. “That doesn’t help anyone.”
Candidates Joe Yee, David Turturici and Michael Rehm were not immediately available for comment.
All of the District 4 candidates will be participating in a candidate forum Saturday at the County Administration building, 700 I St., hosted by League of Women Voters of Greater Sacramento.
What ideas do you have for making the Second Saturday Art Walk better? Let us know in the conversation below.
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.