By Allie Matherne
NeighborWorks Waco will soon expand downtown Waco’s cultural repertoire with an event to draw over 5,000 people with food, music and art exhibits.
Art on Elm, a free event hosted by NeighborWorks Waco, will include more than 35 artists, 100 pieces of art, food trucks and five bands on Elm Avenue.
There will also be a preview party, Splash on the Color!, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. April 10 at the Brazos Event Center at 520 Elm Ave. The party is $10 per person and will include live music, food, drinks and a preview of the art to be shown the following day.
The exhibits will include photography, sculpture, acrylic paintings, three-dimensional art and more, said Honey Jenkins, director of marketing, communication and IT at NeighborWorks Waco.
“There’s really something for everyone,” Jenkins said.
According to its website, Art on Elm was born out of the notion that art contributes to communities: “This event aims to aid in efforts to develop our urban areas and celebrate our rich artistic culture here in Waco.”
In addition to the professional art on exhibit, there will be a youth exhibition to advocate the creative development of students in the Waco and McLennan County area, Jenkins said.
“It’s not only promoting artists and promoting Waco. It goes a lot deeper than that,” Jenkins said.
The development of arts in a community is vital to its growth as a whole, said Nancy Grayson, owner of Lula Jane’s on Elm Avenue.
“Everything NeighborWorks Waco does promotes community development,” Grayson said. “When you look at the research, the development of a city is based on the arts culture. It’s a flagstone of community development.”
Jenkins said people are drawn to the event because it is a unique part of downtown and provides an opportunity to see the thriving arts culture in downtown Waco.
Grayson said she agrees.
“It brings interest, enthusiasm [and] potential to the other side of downtown,” Grayson said.
The event began as an initiative to expand the culture downtown, Jenkins said. The NeighborWorks Waco organization brought in a professional to evaluate the health of downtown.
“She said, ‘What is Waco missing? Where’s the art district?’ And we thought, ‘Waco doesn’t really have that,’” Jenkins said.
The event is expanding in numbers compared to past years, as event coordinators are anticipating more than 5,000 people at the event, Jenkins said.
“We’ve never had this many artists, this many bands, just — everything,” Jenkins said.