ALT Walk offering arts community an affordable venue

Troy Shantz

All systems are go for Sarnia’s first ever ALT Walk.

The city’s newest arts festival will see Christina Street closed between Lochiel and Wellington on Aug. 17 to create space for at least 69 artists, vendors and musicians, said organizer Eric Watt.

“It’s all coming together really well,” said the city artist and illustrator, who added buskers are welcome that day.

“They just have to come to the info booth and I’ll place them somewhere.”

ALT Walk follows in the footsteps of Artwalk, the now defunct weekend arts festival. Though the intention was never to replace Artwalk, ALT Walk is “an effort to do what Artwalk was originally supposed to do,” Watt said.

“I was unimpressed with the direction Artwalk was taking the last few years and the decline in artist booths and wanted to tap into Artwalk’s original identity and goal, which was to strengthen the art community.”

ALT Walk is run through a non-profit and designed with affordability in mind, Watt said. A 10-foot by 10-foot plot – which artists can furnish with a table, easel or blanket – costs $65, a rate that’s based on the number of registrants. As numbers grow, the price goes down.

A booth at Artwalk cost $350 its final year, a fee prohibitively expensive for many working artists, he added.

The five-member organizing committee hopes to add a second day to the festival in the future, as well as a workshop component.

Artwalk folded last year after a “one-year hiatus” became permanent due to a lack of volunteers and a shrinking board of directors, organizers said.

City councillor Nathan Colquhoun became Artwalk president in 2016 after four members of the executive board resigned. He and two others filled the open positions but they and the remaining board said they couldn’t make the time commitment required to sustain the festival long-term.

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: ALT Walk, a downtown Sarnia arts festival

WHEN: Aug. 17, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

WHERE: Christina Street, between Lochiel Street and Wellington Street. Sections of Davis Street near Christina Street will also be closed.