By Maria Saporta
Closing Peachtree Street could become contagious — in a good way.
Plans are underway to launch the Midtown Festival of the Arts during the weekend of September 25 and September 26.
The festival is scheduled to take place on Peachtree Street between Fifth Street and Tenth Street, and it already has lined up a variety of offerings — about 100 visual artists, stages for the performing arts, literary events as well as culinary arts area that will feature chef demonstrations and local restaurants.
Sounds great, right?
All that stands in the way of the Midtown Festival of the Arts is the city approving its permit applications — including the closing down of Peachtree Street to cars during the weekend festival.
As I’ve said before, a festival on a street dedicated to pedestrians helps bring life to a city.
The Midtown Festival of the Arts plans to do just that. There will be a family-friendly kid zone, and Midtown Mile road race, street performers and film screenings during the free event.
The organization putting on the festival believes it will help foster a greater sense of community and identity, and it will help support Midtown advocacy groups and neighborhood safety initiatives.
Atlanta has been crying out for such an event for years. For decades, the city had the annual Atlanta Arts Festival in Piedmont Park. But the Piedmont Park Conservancy and the city discouraged the expansion of major events in the park for the fear that it was being overused and abused.
The Atlanta Arts Festival then moved to downtown — embarking on an ambitious effort to take over vacant buildings and turn them into temporary art galleries. But the festival ended up spending much more money that it raised, and the Atlanta Arts Festival simply died.
A couple of years ago, a much smaller group decided to resurrect an Atlanta Arts Festival at Piedmont Park, but it is intentionally limiting the size of its festival so it won’t be at odds with the conservancy’s policy against have new large events in the park (unless it’s a fundraiser for the conservancy, ie: the Paul McCartney concert).
That festival is scheduled to occur in Piedmont Park the weekend before the Midtown Festival of the Arts.
Locating a festival on Peachtree Street has its advantages. First of all, the area between Fifth and 10th streets is served by two MARTA stations — North Avenue and Midtown.
By closing down Peachtree Street, artists will have plenty of room to place their booths without having to worry about the potential damage to an existing green space. The street also provides ample space for thousands of people to stroll along the corridor.
In a statement Leslie Johnson, director of the Midtown Festival of the Arts, and the idea already has taken hold along the route.
“We’ve enjoyed overwhelming support of the businesses in the area immediately impacted by the Festival,” Johnson said in a statement. “We also are fortunate that almost 200 individuals have stepped forward with individual support through memberships.”
A 100 percent of the business owners between 5th Street and 10th Street have signed letters in support of the festival.
Now, all we need is for the city to approve the permits.
Click here for more information on the Midtown Festival of the Arts.