You won’t have to venture far for arts and entertainment in Morristown this summer. They will come to you, if the town okays Meet Me in Morristown.
It’s a plan for sidewalk arts and crafts exhibits and music on the last Thursday of June, July, August and September.
Inspired by popular First Friday promotions in Boonton, Madison, Philadelphia and elsewhere, the proposal is a joint venture of Morris Arts and the Morristown Partnership designed to boost the arts and downtown commerce at the same time.
The organizations need a sidewalk permit from the town, and are scheduled to make their pitch to the council on Tuesday, May 13, 2014.
“It’s really to bring more people into Morristown early in the evening,” said Tom Werder, executive director of Morris Arts. “Perhaps some of the crowd that visits our drinking establishments might want to come to town earlier and support local culture.”
“This is another chance to introduce people to downtown Morristown,” said Jennifer Wehring, marketing director for the the Morristown Partnership. “We want to provide a lively atmosphere in the downtown for shopping, dining and the arts community.”
The proposal calls for sidewalk sales from 11 am to 9 pm, and sidewalk entertainment from 6 pm to 9 pm, on the last Thursday of the summer months.
Locations would extend from outside Anthony’s Pizza on the Green to storefronts along South Street as far as Elm Street, said Kadie Dempsey, director of arts and community for Morris Arts.
Everything would be coordinated with local shops and restaurants, to avoid conflicts and help their operations, she said.
“We won’t put a rock band near an outdoor café. We might put a classical guitarist there, to enhance the experience,” Kadie said.
The Partnership would reach out to business owners, while Morris Arts would screen the artists and performers. Participants would not receive any fees, but they could sell their artworks or collect tips. Special tip jars would indicate that performers are part of the program, Kadie said.
With an influx of sophisticated urban residents, young families and Manhattan visitors, Morristown has become a small city, full of people looking for summer fun downtown, Kadie said.
She described Meet Me in Morristown as part of a broader movement called “creative placemaking,” which engages local artists to enliven and transform public and private spaces. Town officials seem intrigued.
“This administration 100 percent supports these kinds of events, which make people more aware of the arts…It’s just another example of the vibrancy of our downtown,” said Mayor Tim Dougherty
“This helps businesses, helps the community, and brings people together. It’s all positive,” said the mayor, whose fourth annual Morristown Jazz & Blues Festival is coming in August.
Council President Rebecca Feldman, whose First Ward includes the business district, campaigned across Morris County in last fall’s Assembly race and said many people told her they love Morristown as a central place to meet friends.
“I’m glad the Partnership and the arts council will be formalizing [Meet Me in Morristown] and making it possible for even more people to come and enjoy what Morristown has to offer,” the councilwoman said.
Kadie is hoping that Meet Me in Morristown, like the Farmers Market, has an organic, grassroots flavor.
“Let’s start small and see how it unfolds,” she said. “When things start from the bottom up and not the top down, they have the greatest success.”