Like a lot of the valley’s annual events, Arts in April is changing.
In this case, the change is definitely for the better.
Now in its fifth year, Arts in April — a partnership between Visit Napa Valley and Arts Council Napa Valley — is broadening its scope this year. Instead of being winery-oriented, the organization is encouraging the participation of restaurants and other businesses.
That means a non-winery like the Napa Valley Film Festival can team up with another non-winery like the Cameo Cinema for the April 1 sneak preview of “Woman in Gold,” featuring a Q-and-A with Weinstein Co. COO David Glasser, followed by a reception at the Caldwell Snyder Gallery.
Also for the first time, Arts in April has a manager, Danielle Smith. There’s still no central curator or committee deciding which artists are in and which are out, but Smith serves as an intermediary between art venues and the two parent organizations.
Visit Napa Valley, made up of local hotels, is all about getting heads in beds. The Arts Council is all about promoting artists. When the same tourists who are filling up hotels start buying local art, everybody wins.
Venues pay $250 to host an event, or $125 if they’re already a member of the Arts Council. In exchange, the event gets promoted by Visit Napa Valley’s formidable marketing apparatus.
Arts in April doesn’t distinguish between professional artists and hobbyists. As long as an event meets certain guidelines, it’s in.
Go to NapaValleyCollection.com for a full list of events. Smith told us that at least half of the events are Upvalley.
The St. Helena highlights include the “Woman in Gold” screening, bunny-themed exhibits at Hall Wines and Harvest Inn, an ongoing display of “iPhonic Art” at Markham Vineyards, the unveiling of the new Rosgal Gallery at Cairdean Estates north of town, the April 18 bASH wine and food pairing put on by Appellation St. Helena, and a blending of wine, art and music at Flora Springs.
Smith said she’s measuring the promotion’s success based on the satisfaction of each venue, as well as post-event surveys. We encourage her to include hotel occupancy data in her evaluation, and to ascertain, if possible, how many tourists are visiting specifically because of Arts in April.
Reaching out to non-wineries sends the message that Arts in April is intended for the whole community, not just tourists.
We’d love to see a few more refinements next year: greater participation by art galleries and small businesses, more outreach to local schools, a few “locals specials” for those of us with a 94574 ZIP code, more emphasis on art forms like poetry and music, and maybe some “Fine Art Spotlight” events to help professional artists connect with serious art collectors.
Arts in April has come a long way since 2011, when it was cooked up as a way to help hotels get through the slow “shoulder season,” much like the Mustard Festival.
The Mustard Festival is now defunct, but Arts in April is moving in the right direction. It’s looking more and more like a tradition that’s here to stay.