Phoenix Artists Making New Connections As Pandemic Puts Damper On First Fridays

By Autriya Maneshni
Published: Friday, February 5, 2021 - 4:58pm
Updated: Saturday, February 6, 2021 - 5:31pm

first friday
Justin Stabley/KJZZ
Various vendor booths during First Friday in 2019.

Before the pandemic, the Roosevelt Row Arts District was booming with fans, artists and musicians for First Friday. Now, the monthly party is no longer happening as a large, in-person event. However, there is a silver lining. First Friday’s main promoter, Artlink, is finding new ways for people to engage with their favorite First Friday musicians and artists.

Catrina Kahler is the CEO and president of Artlink.

"We wanted to be there and amplify that message that this place is open on a limited basis, this place is doing something online, this artist is now hosting something from their studio. So a lot of it became around creating connections and amplifying those messages." Kahler said.

Kahler said that Artlink is now focused on educating the community about how important Phoenix’s art scene is.

"First Fridays is one of the lead brands of not just the arts and culture community but of the city. And for that to not happen on a regular basis on every First Friday as a demonstration of the creativity and demonstration of the vitality of this community — that monthly reminder is missing," Kahler said.

Kahler said she is optimistic that First Friday will be able to return to its traditional format one day, better than ever.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify the status of First Friday. Although large crowds are no longer gathering for the traditional, in-person event, artists are continuing with First Friday-related activities.