Destination: Village of the Arts, Bradenton, FL

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Village of the ArtsNext ArtWalk:  April 4 and 5

Village of the Arts is an old downtown community, three blocks south of the Courthouse. Seven years ago it was inhabited with drugs dealers and hookers. A lot of the property owners had moved out and were renting their places out because the neighborhood was so bad. A couple of the residents were artists and very involved in local arts community and got the idea to clean up the neighborhood and turn it into an artists community.

It started with four or five Galleries (local residents turning their homes into galleries) and a lot of hard work. It took a lot to get the town on board, but it launched a Downtown revitalization program, and got some low interest loans for the artists, and a little matching grant money for the front yards of the galleries. There was rezoning to be done, sidewalks and street lights, etc.

There are now almost 40 Galleries mixed in with a some places that are still private residences, and a lot of artists in the community who do not have their places turned into galleries, but because they are artists they like living in the community. Out of the 40 Galleries, there are two book shops, several writers, three eateries, (the newest a Silican Restaurant with wonderful food), three potters, a sculpture, a couple of jewelers, a cute clothing boutique, leather workers, a quilt designer, water colorists, a frame shop and many more.

The first Friday night and first Saturday of every month they hold an ArtWalk and all the Galleries are open. They also hold other events once or twice a month during the winter season. During the winter months because of the influx of Northerners who come to Florida for the winter they hold more events.

To learn more about this Village visit this link: www.artistsguildofmanatee.org

Many thanks to Christina Lee of the Lee Shore Gallery for sending me this information.

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