Memphis has enjoyed the annual Arts in the Park event, on and off, presented by Memphis Arts Festival, since the '80s. At its height it included a prestigious Juried Art show, in a big tent; Special Projects, scattered around; Invited Artists, in another tent or nearby building; artists publicly working away; art projects for kids, incl. T-shirt painting, and that floating oil pigment technique; sculpture gardens, mazes; lots of music acts on three stages, incl. orchestra, ballet, jazz and blues; strolling musicians, puppeteers, belly dancers, tango dancers, local choirs, food booths by many restaurants, you get the idea. Local schools made wonderful banners. A huge volunteer army worked hard. There were money prizes for artists and grants to do the Special Projects.
But the center of AITP was the 250 artists' tents where
local as well as national artists set up to sell their work.
As I discuss at AITP99_page1.html security was a problem. I had two pieces robbed in 1999 and a tent of artists from the medical field was robbed the next year. Another problem was, Memphis already has a big selling show called the Pink Palace Craft Show. They are just a week apart in the usually beautiful October weather. Arts in the Park perhaps pulled the better artists from Pink Palace and that show weakened, but it survives.
This year (2003), AITP was scaled back severely; it has no Juried Art, Special Projects is just a few benches, etc. Meanwhile, the entry fee for art vendors has jumped, electricity is way extra, and it's a $10 ticket to enter!
It's sad to see, but I think every such endeavor has an arc, and without strenuous fundraising beforehand, money grows scarce; they put the burden on the geese that lay the golden eggs, meaning the public and the selling artists, and then the end is very near. I think it grew too big and fancy, and they used music to draw in big crowds, who ignored the art. The lady who was good at fundraising was not a good field-general.
2004: No more AITP. They thought about holding just the Artists' Market at the Shelby Farms and apparently gave up. Clearly, we need a new board (this org. was called Memphis Arts Festival.)
2005: They hold a scaled-back AITP at Christian Bros. U. under a broiling June sun. There is little but art vendors. Fees and entry tickets are high as they try to amass a nest egg for next year.
2006: Gone, as far as I know.
2007: It has returned - to South Main Street and Central Station downtown as the River Arts Fest. It's later in the fall. Many artists' sales tents, some acts, and a juried show in the station.