Hippo Manchester
December 29, 2005

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Arts: Stride and ride

Art tours offered chances to meet & greet local artists

By John “jaQ” Andrews  jandrews@hippopress.com

Local art can be diffcult to scope out sometimes. Wouldn’t it be groovy if there were regular, scheduled tours of the neatest galleries in the city? With brochures and refreshments and everything?

Manchester has been offering such a tour since 2001, and Nashua started a similar program this fall. As we look back on 2005, the Open Doors Manchester trolley tour and Art Walk Nashua stand out as great ways to plunge yourself to the local arts scene.

Open Doors Manchester took place on four Thursday evenings: April 28, June 23, Sep. 22 and Nov. 17. Two old-fashioned trolleys scuttled about the city, ferrying passengers to nearly a dozen venues, including the Currier Museum of Art, the Millyard Museum and the Franco-American Centre.

Art Walk Nashua brought the concept of an art tour to the Gate City. No trolleys, though — with the exception of a few outlying galleries, most of the venues were located either right downtown or in the millyard.

“By all accounts from the gallery owners and artists it went extremely well,” said Sarah DiSano, Executive Director of Great American Downtown, the organizing body behind the Art Walk. “They had consistently higher attendance than usual.” She said that some galleries reported 200 visitors on one Saturday, while their normal number of customers was about ten.

Art Walk Nashua started in September with 16 official venues, but galleries clamored to be put on the official roster. The November date was named one of the top ten things to do in New England by boston.com. By the fourth event in December, 23 locations were listed, with more latching on unsanctioned. DiSano didn’t mind.

“We felt, the more the merrier,” she said.

Next year’s Art Walk Nashua will build on this year’s success, DiSano said, but might be structured differently. Possibilities include changing the dates — for example, becoming a quarterly event rather than four walks clustered in the last four months of the year. Great American Downtown is also considering a shuttle service to help people get around.