Beginning in January 2024, Carbondale Arts (CA) will take the reins for First Fridays.
In a recent press release, Carbondale Chamber and Tourism President and CEO Andrea Stewart said, “The First Friday Committee is proud of 10-plus successful years of growth for First Friday, but now is a perfect time for us to pass the baton as we expand new member-driven chamber programming to support our small business community and broader economic development in Carbondale.”
Stewart went to Jamie Abbott, CA executive director, with a proposition to hand over First Friday responsibilities to the nonprofit arts organization.
It’s a coming home of sorts, as CA initially created and oversaw First Fridays.
“In the early 2000s, CA, then Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, founded First Fridays to highlight the arts in our community and support businesses along Main Street. Over the past several years, this event gained a great reputation and respective audience under the administration of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce,” the CA press release stated.
Planning for the transfer of duties has been in the works for about a year, Abbott said.
“We were in close discussions about how that handoff might work, and then we spent time, internally, with our board of directors and staff with what we could bring to the table,” she said.
“It’s a natural match because First Fridays is an opportunity to highlight the Creative District and bring people together. Fundamentally, at its core, CA’s mission is to connect the community through art, so this feels like what we should be doing — it’s time to bring it back,” Abbott shared.
“First Fridays is part of this organic community get-together. There’s no doubt that a part of it is people showing up and seeing each other and connecting. I would say, even now, for CA, we show up at a monthly meeting with the Chamber, with the people from the town, with people from Alpine Bank, from First Bank, with whomever else might have some special offering that month, and coordinate. That already happens and will continue to happen. It’ll just be CA taking the lead,” Abbott said.
While some First Fridays are larger-scale productions, like last week’s Día de los Muertos festivities, with its parade and performances, “other months will be more low-key with a band playing on the street,” Abbott said.
“We’re trying to find ways to add a little bit more vibrancy to things,” she added, including looking for more opportunities to engage with Main Street businesses.
Michael Stout, CA’s community engagement director, is in charge of business relations and said, “CA is excited about partnering with the community and Main Street businesses to continue advancing the role of the creative sector in the economic vitality of our historic downtown.”
Business participation can look different for any given month. “Those decisions will be driven by the business and made by the business. We’re going to provide the opportunity and the container for it,” Abbott said.
Carbondale businesses interested in participating in First Friday events can contact Michael Stout at