While the Three Rivers Art Festival is a fine event that brings revenue to the City and Downtown, there are a few minor details that if addressed realistically, could make this event even more successful. After collecting feedback from businesses along Columbia St. for the last several years, there are some simple suggestions that would foster a greater sense of cooperation between the organizers of the festival and the downtown businesses.
1. Broaden the Scope of the Festival. Instead of two rows of tents lining the entirety of Columbia Street, put one line of tents down the middle of Columbia and one line of tents down the middle of New Hampshire.
2. Stop Blocking the Fronts of Businesses and Allow Local Businesses to Participate For Free. The businesses that exist downtown pay premiums in rent and taxes. They do not need to pay an event to represent their own business that they are already paying for. The event organizers should work with existing businesses rather than work against them.
Instead of setting up a food tent and music stage on the same block that has three businesses with food and music, encourage patrons to shop at the local businesses that are already there, and book music acts in the local venues.
3. Prioritize the Participation of Local Artists. It’s fun to see new things and discover a different perspective from artists in other areas of the country, but if it’s called the Three Rivers Art Festival, referring to the confluence of the river systems here, then the festival should feature exclusively local and regional artists.