It all started with a trip to Portland, Ore. That’s where Funkhouse owner Cindy Funkhouser found the inspiration for what would become First Friday in 2002. In the years since, the event has grown from a few hundred people to a few thousand. Under new management it’s poised to grow even more. So how does it feel to give up control of the thing you created?
It feels good.
“[The new owners are] going to be great for the event,” says Funkhouser, who will be consulting on First Friday for the next two months and coordinating a book-themed art show in conjunction with the Nov. 4 event. “I didn’t realize how much work it as and how much I worried about it until I passed on the torch. We just never knew how we were going to make it happen each month.”
What’s next for the person who endured the birthing pains of the downtown arts scene? After November, Whirlygig, the nonprofit that put on First Friday under Funkhouser’s tenure, will go into “hibernation” until spring. Then Funkhouser plans to return to coordinate special art projects at First Fridays. She’ll still be involved, but to a much lesser extent. And she’s just fine with that.
“I didn’t have any expectations [about starting First Friday]. It was always, ‘This isn’t going to work, you know, nobody will show up.’ But it never really made sense to me that we couldn’t do it here. Nobody could convince me it couldn’t work.”