Art walk to highlight downtown cultural scene

Gail Carlson poses inside her private gallery. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A well-travelled local artist is hoping to bring a bit of an international flair to Prince Albert’s downtown with the hope of helping people rediscover the district.

Gail Carlson is the person behind the new, monthly downtown art walk.

The first Thursday of every month, select art galleries restaurants and businesses in downtown Prince Albert will be open late for a self-guided art walk.

“We have this gorgeous downtown. There are seven blocks of our beautiful downtown,” said Carlson, whose gallery is part of the art walk.

The best way of developing a city core is to have more cultural, people-friendly services and galleries are one of them.”

Other cities and other areas have one day a week where people stop in to grab a drink or a bite to eat or to check out the local art and artisans.

“When you travel, they have cultural evenings where you go and there’s 100 to 200 people waling around and in and out of the different galleries and restaurants, having a drink, having a bite to eat and just being social,” she said.

“Our summers, everybody is up at the lakes, but they have to come in for groceries — usually on Thursday night.”

Having downtown businesses closed that night is a missed opportunity, she said. She’s found that, despite what ideas others might have, the downtown is pretty quiet in the evening.

Add in the three public galleries and two private galleries, many restaurants and two home décor stores, it makes for a pretty good little stop.

“Downtown has been closed a lot on Thursday evenings because there’s nobody down here. It’s a good way to start. Just having an open one Thursday a month. If you’re coming from the lake, just getting your groceries you may as well stop at Rusty Owl, or Rock Trout, or Funky Fresh and have something to eat and make it a nice evening,” Carlson said.

Right now, it’s mostly the restaurants and art galleries who have gotten on board, though Carlson said it’s open to any downtown business.

Currently, brochures are being printed and distributed up at the lakes and at hotels, resorts and visitor centres.

For Carlson, it hearkens back to what the downtown was 40 years ago, before big box stores started to move in to other areas in the city, and returning to effective, word-of-mouth advertising.

“It’s a really good, direct way of word-of-mouth advertising where people come into the stores, she said.

“It’s connecting back into your communities and actually talking with people.”

The next art walk is Thursday, June 7. The walks continue until September.