1st Saturday: A New Plan
In 2017, Kingston Midtown Arts District (MAD) initiated a partnership to reinvigorate and expand Kingston’s tradition of 1st Saturday gallery openings. Business Alliance of Kingston stalwart Nancy Donskoj and ARTBAR Gallery owner Ali Constant launched Kingston Gallery Business Group (KGBG) to lead the partnership and create a center of gravity for Kingston’s many galleries and 1st Saturday venues. Through this 1st Saturday partnership, MAD and KGBG now serve and attract a growing sector of Kingston artists, arts-based businesses and art lovers.
With more than two dozen galleries and arts venues regularly open on 1st Saturday – most of which are located in Midtown – MAD and its partners have rebuilt and strengthened Kingston’s historically large 1st Saturday crowds.
1st Saturday: A Brief History
Kingston’s 1st Saturday was the Hudson Valley’s first regular monthly gallery event when it originally launched in the mid-1990s. It inspired Art Along the Hudson, which held similar events in nearly a dozen communities. By the early 2000s, Kingston’s 1st Saturday was drawing 3,000 visitors. The buzz prompted Business Week and others to wax eloquent about Kingston in features profiling the economic impact of artists nationwide.
During this high-energy time for the arts, Kingston’s 1st Saturday, the Kingston Sculpture Biennial and the Kingston Artists’ Soapbox Derby all began and drew tens of thousands of visitors throughout the year.
Several other efforts also came together, including a popular citywide children’s art exhibit. Art galleries pooled their lists to promote regular monthly openings. The Arts Society of Kingston (ASK) was formed and began to issue 1st Saturday press releases. A gallery guide evolved and later the Kingston Trolley was used to create a hop on/hop off way to visit arts venues, eateries and shops from Uptown to Rondout.
1st Saturday: A Sustainable Economic Force
Many of the original 1st Saturday artists remain active in Kingston’s art scene, and today newer artists who live or work in Kingston have joined forces with them to inject their own artistic visions into Kingston. By capitalizing on Kingston’s exciting art history – and the combined power base of old and new creative energies – MAD has helped to establish the arts as a sustainable force in Kingston’s economy.