First Thursdays Christchurch was established by Art Beat, and Art Beat was established by Arts Voice in 2012 to provide opportunities for Christchurch based artists to work and develop their practice, and to encourage artists to remain in the city. In its commitment to proactively engage audiences in public spaces, Art Beat was seen as an opportunity to reconsider how the arts are experienced in Christchurch.
The First Thursdays Christchurch team is comprised of the Art Beat team - a group of artists and administrators representing a range of practices. Hera and Fledge - an artist and production company representing a variety of Christchurch musicians http://fledge.co.nz/; Wongi & Co - a graffiti artist and team delivering high quality street art experiences http://www.wongi.co.nz/; Audrey Baldwin and The Social - an artist and fine arts group seeking new ways to present contemporary art in public spaces with an emphasis on installation, performance and public interaction http://audreybaldwin.wix.com/audrey-baldwin.
The event was developed with the support of First Thursdays K Road; www.firstthursdays.co.nz
Since 2012 Art Beat has presented music, public art, exhibitions, installations, performance and events in the inner city over the summer months, and attracted residents and visitors to the inner city, received national and international attention, and raised perceptions of Christchurch as a city that is vital and creative.
At the end of the 2014 Summer programme it was agreed that Art Beat establish a First Thursdays programme of arts activities in the Sydenham business district. First Thursdays is a globally successful event in which arts organizations within a precinct or city, collectively open for one evening, creating an arts event unique to that district. The global model will be adapted to suit the environment in Christchurch, to align with the objectives of Art Beat, and to build relationships between business and the arts.
The Art Beat programme will also continue in the inner city with The Art Beat Summer Concert Series 2015 - More info to come soon.