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April 9, 2014

Art program to give old buildings facelifts

NORMAN — An abandoned lumberyard in downtown Norman is being transformed with monthlong arts programming during StART Norman by the Norman Arts Council, beginning with a kick-off celebration from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday at the southwest corner of west Main Street and Webster Avenue.

Norman Arts Council Executive Director Erinn Gavaghan said the programming is designed to inspire change and a sense of community through the arts and “placemaking.” With any luck, Gavaghan said StART Norman will inspire residents and visitors to reimagine the potential the city’s empty spaces contain.

“After that, we turn the space back over to the owners,” she said, referring to when the programming is done. “We hope that we will have started a dialogue of people who want to do something on that block, giving owners an idea of what they can do with the lumberyard.”

The initiative is a hybrid of two existing models: Better Block, which takes underutilized urban areas and revitalizes them with arts activities for a weekend, and No Longer Empty, which takes vacant properties in urban areas and places sight-specific art installations for a temporary amount of time.

This first weekend is packed full of free activities, art installations and pop-up shops and restaurants. Friday’s festivities include an opening reception and live music by the Paseo St. Walkers and Audra Elizabeth.

Saturday brings live music by The Oopapas, and Sunday’s schedule includes performances by Norman Singers and DJ Timmy B.

Participating weekend businesses include Das Boot Camp, LOCAL, Bramlette & Associates, Sweet Basil, Elusive, Bell’s Mystical Beginnings, Earth Elements Market & Bakery, Prairie Wind Nursery, 3 Dirty Dogs, Okienuts and pop-up shops Massive Downtown, Samantha Lamb, Jenny Wright, Sharon Von Schriltz and She Sells Jewelry.

A month’s worth of programming will follow, including everything from the performing to visual arts. The month includes live music, poetry and book readings, artist talks, panel discussions, film screenings, arts activities, acting, a writing workshop, open mic night and more.

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