First (Freaky) Friday, recession edition


  TGISFF — Thank God It’s Still First Friday — even as cuts curtail the summer slate of culture.
  The monthly downtown arts bash is scaling back the June 5, July 3 and Aug. 7 events due to tight funding, as announced by Whirlygig Inc., the nonprofit group that organizes the ongoing festival. Outdoor portions on Casino Center and Colorado Street, which include artists’ booths, live music and street performances, will be temporarily suspended. Visual and performing artists will remain on sidewalks and surrounding venues. 
  “It has always been the board’s goal to host First Friday every month, whether it’s an art walk and street festival or only an art walk,” Cindy Funkhouser, Whirlygig’s president, said in a statement. “It’s a challenging time for nonprofits everywhere and we have chosen to be creative, to make a change that allows us to keep First Friday alive and to keep the arts district the place to be on the first Friday of each month.”
  Docking the outdoor events as part of an effort to “ensure the art festival’s future” still leaves it with neighborhood art galleries, artists’ studios, antique and clothing stores and restaurant-bars remaining open from 6 to 10 p.m. on the three summer nights.
  Since the creation of First Friday in October 2002, Whirlygig has relied on sponsorships and an annual fundraiser to stage events, especially the outdoor portion, which runs a bill upward of $10,000 monthly, including costs for fencing, barricading and the presence of police officers. Recently, however, sponsorship funds have plunged by 40 percent, and the fundraiser, held last October, took in 20 percent less than in previous years.
  Even with the (hopefully temporary) shrinkage, Las Vegans still can jump on the provided trolleys or just stroll around the arts buffet available on Charleston Boulevard, Main Street, Commerce Street, Colorado Street and the Casino Center streetscape.
  TGISFF, arts lovers.