By: Breanne Williams
Due to its immense success, the cit is prepared to not only continue Fourth Friday, a monthly event in downtown Tampa celebrating the city’s arts and, but also enhance the festivities as it celebrates its one-year anniversary.
Fourth Friday began as a collaboration between multiple cultural venues downtown, like the Tampa Theatre, Tampa Museum of Art and other iconic Tampa gems. The endeavor received such a positive reaction from the community that the Tampa Downtown Partnership agreed to take over managing the event.
“Fourth Friday benefits the community by encouraging them to embrace the arts and culture that we have available here in this city by kind of grouping it all together and making it easily accessible for them,” said Rachel Radawec, the executive administrative assistant for Tampa Downtown Partnership. “A lot of the cultural institutions offer free or discounted admission and additional programming that’s not typically there.”
Many of the venues involved in the monthly event met to discuss plans for the next year. They voted unanimously to continue into the new year and are even discussing expanding to Ybor City.
“It has met and surpassed the goals we set for the event,” Radawec said. “Each of the cultural venues have really great ideas on ways to enhance this coming year.”
There are plans to do more philanthropic work, especially around the holidays, by making the venues food drives or toy collection hubs. It also plans on working with local community partners to bring attention to their cause.
Radawec also said the venues are committed to adding an experience twice a year that goes “above and beyond what they normally do.” She said this will keep the schedule constantly evolving and fresh to keep people who go regularly enticed.
The Tampa Theatre has been involved since the beginning. It helped find other cultural venues to join in the monthly celebration. The Theatre offers a half-hour tour, and opens the lobby for a happy hour for anyone walking by.
Jill Witecki, the director of marketing and community relations for the Tampa Theatre, said Fourth Friday is a great draw for people who have never been to the Theatre before.
“I ask every time I give a tour how many people are there for the first time,” Witecki said. “It’s not uncommon we have 75 to 100 people on the tour… the majority of them who come on Fourth Friday have never been to the Tampa Theatre before. So as a marketing tool, as a tool to introducing people to arts and culture in downtown Tampa, which is the whole point of the event, it is incredibly successful.”
Witecki said the Theatre has yet to decide what its special experiences will be. However, if she were to speculate, she said it would probably be focused around the unique events the Theatre currently offers for the community.
“So we do a big program around Halloween, around our summer classics, we do a big program around the holiday classics and hopefully before the end of the year we will be getting our new seats,” Witecki said. “We should be revealing those to the public around the end of this calendar year, so if I were to paint it in broad brush strokes, our special thing will be paired on top of something we are already doing.”
Witecki said there is a misconception that there is nothing to do downtown. She said Fourth Friday helps combat that by helping students and other community members realize there is a plethora of exciting venues in the city.
“There really is a lot going on, you can make an entire evening of it, a weekend of it or have a great date night here… (Tampa) really is a unique city that is starting to hit its stride,” she said.
Radawec echoed her sentiments and said Fourth Friday specifically is a way for a college student to enjoy a lot of culture and events in one setting.
“For students, I think it’s a really great opportunity,” Radawec said. “One, it’s an affordable option to get to experience a lot of different institutions, all at one time… It’s convenient for students. Everybody’s got stuff going on, they’ve got class and work and things like that so being able to cluster all of that together with the affordability is really a nice experience for them.”