Arts Night Out picks up momentum, draws increasing numbers to Lansing neighborhoods

Three months. 25 or more venues. Four Lansing-area neighborhoods.
But wait. Those numbers are just for starters.
Since May, Lansing's Arts Night Out has attracted 1,000 or more people on three separate occasions to browse and experience the arts in urban spaces. Presented by the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, the event on the first Friday of every month provides a cultural and community answer to the perennial question of "what's up for the weekend?"
Free and totally egalitarian, Arts Night Out represents a partnership with local commercial and business associations that encourages residents to visit one of four different Lansing-area neighborhoods on a Friday night from 5 to 8 p.m. Once in Old Town, East Lansing, Downtown or REO Town, visitors venture into shops or spaces to take in the art or participate in an artistic event.
"At that first event, we were worried," says Arts Night Out Coordinator Taylor Rupp with the Arts Council. "We didn't see many people on the street, but as soon as we walked by the stores, we saw it was next to impossible to get in. That's exactly what we wanted."
Old Town was the scene of the first Arts Night Out in May, East Lansing the second in June. July brought the event back to Old Town, like it will every other month through December. On August 5, patrons can venture into REO Town, where Rupp says the event might get a little edgier.
"People should expect some live music and for shops to be open later than usual," she says. "Just plan for a night out and stick around town."
Rupp says the idea for Arts Night Out grew from the success and inspiration of Kalamazoo's Art Hop and Grand Rapid's Art Prize. Arts Night Out, she says, is uniquely scaled to Lansing, and looks to promote both local artists and local businesses by pairing the two in walkable, urban districts. Businesses select artists to showcase, with art ranging from two-dimensional works to live music to art demonstrations to chalk art on the sidewalk.
"We want to draw in everything—to make it a date night to a family night to a night out with friends," says Rupp. "It's part of a big push to bring the City of Lansing alive after 5. We think Lansing is ready for this—we've had a lot of positive feedback and it looks hopeful we'll continue throughout the seasons."
Arts Night Out is scheduled through December 2016, with plans to extend into 2017. To participate as a business sponsor or artist, or to find out more about upcoming events in Old Town, East Lansing, Downtown or REO Town, visit the website here.
Source: Taylor Rupp, Arts Night Out Coordinator, Arts Council of Greater Lansing
Writer: Ann Kammerer, News Editor
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