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Fresno ArtHop is canceled until further notice

FresYes

ArtHop draws big crowds each month in the downtown and Tower District neighborhoods.

The Fresno Arts Council announced that ArtHop, the twice-monthly open houses featuring galleries and studios in Fresno, is canceled until further notice.

From the official statement:

We will be seeking guidance from state and local officials to determine when to again host this community event. We encourage all venues to avoid gathering people in densely-attended outdoor public art events as well as indoor art activities where social distancing guidelines cannot be consistently followed.

This isn’t a big surprise. Every local arts organization I can think of has put activities on hold (except for ones that can be delivered remotely). And ArtHop has already been shut down for months because of shelter-in-place rules. Yet it would seem that galleries likely fall into the category of businesses that will be allowed to open before, say, performance spaces. The arts council decision no doubt will upset some gallery owners, who have been slammed by the prolonged coronavirus quarantine. I understand why gallery owners would want to get their doors open as soon as possible.

Still, ArtHop is a bigger endeavor than just its individual parts, and I can also see why the arts council wants to be as safe as possible. The challenge is that the arts council obviously doesn’t have any control over the actions of its members, who pay an annual fee to participate in the ArtHop experience. If a gallery wants to open and is obeying local law, it has that right. (However, I’m assuming that a venue does not have the right to describe something as an ArtHop event without permission of the arts council, though I don’t imagine any party would want to get into a tussle about that.)



So, for now, it’s official.

“The Fresno Arts Council realizes that by curtailing the largest free, public arts event in the county, this has an impact on the public and our creative community,” said Bruce Kalkowski, the council’s board president, in a statement. “We are heartbroken to take this action, but we feel it is absolutely critical for the health of our community.”

Fees for 2021 will be waived for ArtHop venues due to shelter-in-place orders in 2020. (Which itself will be a financial hardship for the council, a county arts organization.)

If and when galleries and studios do open during this transition period, the arts council recommends establishing clear social distancing options. These include keeping indoor occupancy low to reduce the potential for person-to-person spread via close physical contact; frequently disinfect and deep-clean surfaces that are frequently touched by the general public, such as door handles and restrooms; and to make hand sanitizer available to patrons if possible.

Meanwhile, I know that some visual artists are turning to digital showcases to stay viable during these tough times. I’m curious: Have any informal “digital ArtHops” been successful? If the visual-arts community banded together, would a well planned and heavily promoted online gathering keyed toward a specific date be practical and fruitful? I’m curious what you think. (Send comments to donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com or leave a comment on this story.)

By the way, if you aren’t familiar with the event, here’s a piece from FresYes titled ‘A Beginner’s Guide to ArtHop.”


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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

donaldfresnoarts@gmail.com

Comments (2)

  • Jackie Ryle

    Sad news. But, when it comes back, we are dedicated to making it all better than ever in every respect! Hang in everyone! It will be more important than ever!

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  • Very sad news. 🙁 But also a wise plan for the safety of art lovers and artists. Even though art hop will not be happening for a while, there’s no reason people can’t seek out their favorite artists and visit their studios and galleries by appointment to see their work and support them during this fiscally difficult time. Perhaps the Arts Council could share their list of artists and contact information for interested parties or coordinate an effort to connect art lovers and artists through a virtual directory of some sort. Is that a possibility that has been considered? Lots of mini art hops on a smaller, more personal scale that could broaden the scope of Art Hop, once safely reinstated.

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