PITTSBURG, Kan. — Since 2006, area residents have looked forward to the biannual Pittsburg ArtWalk. This year, though, the April event had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. That’s when organizers began exploring the possibility of moving the second ArtWalk of the year online.


"I’m glad we started because there was a lot of planning that was involved in the Virtual ArtWalk, a lot more than we expected, so we’re glad that we were kind of thinking about it early on," said ArtWalk Committee President Jennifer De Lee.


In a normal year, several blocks of downtown Pittsburg would be closed to vehicle traffic for the ArtWalk, which would feature local artists’ work for sale along with music, food, and drinks. The virtual event will aim to recreate as much of that atmosphere as possible while also maintaining coronavirus safety precautions.


"We knew it was going to be a possibility, and then in the summer we made it final that that’s what we’re going to be doing is the Virtual ArtWalk," De Lee said.


The Virtual ArtWalk will be streamed Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. — or perhaps a bit later — on Facebook Live. For those who may not be able to fit the live event into their schedule, the video, which ArtWalk Committee Vice-President Crista Cunningham has been working to put together from extensive footage and interviews conducted by ArtWalk organizers, will remain available online afterwards. It will feature a segment of roughly five minutes for each of the 40 or so artists, musicians and other participants in the event.


"We’re going to have the artists’ information after each of the segments," De Lee said, "and throughout the week following the ArtWalk we’re going to post individual artists and their information so people have a direct link that they can click to their website or Facebook page that links to their work so that they can purchase it."


ArtWalk will post about individual participating artists on Twitter and Instagram in addition to Facebook, and will include the full-length interviews that were cut down to shorter highlight segments for the Facebook Live event, but which were about half an hour long on average.


"So it’s kind of a really cool change from the original ArtWalk," De Lee said, "so we can get like a one-on-one on why an artist does what they do."


Aside from the online ArtWalk, there will also be an in-person piece of the event, even if it's on a much smaller scale than usual.


Local restaurants and bars including The Pitt, TJ Leland’s, Drop the H and Chatters will host "watch parties" for the event. At Toast, "where our headquarters, so to speak, are going to be," De Lee said, there will be ArtWalk stickers, T-shirts, and other items for sale.


Visit pittsburgartwalk.com or facebook.com/pittsburgartwalk for more information.