By Karen Lunde
Olympia brings artists and thousands of art lovers together each spring and fall for its semi-annual celebration of the arts, Arts Walk. Angel Nava, arts-program specialist for City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation, has taken the helm for the fall event, shifting responsibility from arts-program manager Stephanie Johnson.
Johnson pointed out the change is not necessarily a change in leadership so much as roles falling into place as they should. “Arts Walk has always been the responsibility of the department’s arts-program specialist,” says Johnson. “Fluctuating staff levels have meant that the arts-program manager takes on more or less responsibility to meet the need.” Nava is in her second year as arts-program specialist. Prior to joining the City of Olympia team, she served six years as arts and programs coordinator for Washington State University in Pullman and two years as commissioner on the Pullman Arts Commission.
Changing roles is both invigorating and a true test of strengths and teamwork, especially when it comes to a major event with many moving parts. “It’s exciting to see Arts Walk through new eyes,” said Johnson. “Angel brings a lot of event experience to the position and a fresh perspective.”
“What’s exciting about stepping into this role,” said Nava, “has been seeing the love our community has for the arts. The depth of community engagement is inspiring, and I see it as the heart and soul of Arts Walk. Stephanie and I have different leadership styles that complement each other well. The biggest challenge is having more ideas than we have the time and resources for. It’s been helpful to be able to learn from her about event challenges and to troubleshoot creative solutions together.”
Nava added, “I’m looking forward to continuing building on event infrastructure and promotion, as well as finding creative ways of supporting innovative arts experiences throughout the event.” Fall Arts Walk will introduce a pilot program: an event shuttle to increase accessibility and help visitors engage with more activities and events happening downtown. Arts Walk will also roll out a new interactive, searchable web map to help people navigate the event. For the first time, artisans can register online rather than on paper. “In the spring,” said Nava, “the hope is to continue fine-tuning the online registration process and adding experiences similar to the window alcove performances we did last fall.”
Fall Arts Walk
Friday, October 5 (5-10 p.m.) & Saturday, October 6 (Noon-5 p.m.)