Paintings of peaches and tomatoes will merge with their real-life subjects at Kennedy Plaza this spring.
Arts in the Plaza, a group of visual artists that displayed their artwork and jewelry at the plaza outside City Hall each Sunday, is moving to Saturdays this season, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., to join forces with the Farmer’s Market. The collaboration of artists from West End Arts, Long Beach Art League and Artists in Partnership hope to attract larger crowds since the program's inception two years ago.
“It’s a major cooperation from everyone,” said Andrew Boynton, an artist and member of the newly former Arts in the Plaza committee. “I think for the farmers market and for us, it’s a larger focus to get people coming out every week.”
Boynton and fellow committee members took over operations from the original co-coordinators, Scott Evers and Joann Errante. This year they will stage a new feature: two or three live music acts will perform each weekend, including solo artists and full bands, and three larger concerts are in the planning process.
“People will be pleased to know that it’s growing,” Boynton said. “It should have been this way a long time ago.”
The cost to join one of the three art organizations is $25, and each artist pays a $100 seasonal fee to be part of the city-sponsored program, which runs from May 26 to Oct. 27, Boyton said.
Farmer’s Market organizer Bernadette Martin, who said crowds at the market have recently become stronger, agrees with Boynton that joining forces will bring more people to the plaza on Saturdays.
“The more the merrier,” said Martin, who is entering her fifth season at the plaza, where she pays a seasonal fee and insurance to use the area. “Hopefully the regulars who come to the market will get interested in some of the artwork that will be there.”
Martin also thinks having both programs held on the same day will help to boost the local economy. “While there are people from out of Long Beach coming into town, maybe people will notice restaurants and shops doing more business,” Martin explained. “We are a destination.”
Officials at the City of Long Beach share that sentiment, and believe that both the Farmer's Market and Arts in the Plaza have enriched the community. Councilman Scott Mandel finds that Kennedy Plaza is a good spot where people can pick up fresh produce and enjoy cultural arts each weekend. “It gives residents and visitors a unique place to walk or bike to when the weather is nice,” Mandel said.
While the city doesn't currently have any events scheduled to fill the void left at the plaza on Sundays, Mandel said officials are interested in finding programs that may help generate some revenue.
“The city is certainly open to resident ideas and suggestions,” Mandel said. “Perhaps we can host occasional events or small concerts in the plaza this summer."
The Farmer's Market will be open for business every Wednesday and Saturday from May 2 to Nov. 21. The city did not return an inquiry regarding fees about the program.