Petra Glynt reels them in at AGO’s First Thursday of April.
The AGO’s First Thursdays event are disorienting. It’s loud with some serious nightclub vibes–completely opposite to the gallery’s everyday operation. Under the guise of a 19+ monthly party, the AGO has conceptualized First Thursdays in an attempt to attract 20-somethings and 30-somethings to the gallery.
Programming for the event includes live music, artist projects, food (kind of), a cash bar and full access to all levels of the gallery until the party ends at 11:30pm. Tickets are cheap (regular admission is $12) and it’s common for the night to sell out.
On paper, First Thursdays have the potential to be a legitimate art party and yet, for some reason, they just kind of fall short. As I scanned the gallery space last Thursday, I finally realized why it’s not working for me. I can’t get into First Thursdays because I am a person who likes art, and First Thursdays are not targeted at people who already like art. Quite simply put, AGO First Thursdays are not for us.
First Thursdays exist to lure people who don’t regularly visit the AGO. The event has been extremely successful at doing that, which is great. However, instead of unfolding as an art party, First Thursdays feel more like a novelty party or my friend said, after surveying the scene, “a cheaper alternative to a night on King Street.” Part of me wonders how many of these people actually buy a membership.
Despite my view on the event, I must give credit to First Thursday project manager Sean O’Neill for booking great local talents. Petra Glynt, for example, had the crowd totally mesmerized with her undulating sounds. This is no easy feat for a First Thursday.
AGO First Thursdays may not be for me but the combination of programming and extended gallery hours still make the event worthwhile for an art lover. The secret to enjoying First Thursdays is to go for the art, not the party.
Candice Napoleone currently works at the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. Prior to the CFMDC, she held various positions at Papirmass, Art Metropole and C Magazine. She’ll probably still go to next month’s First Thursday.
Photo via AGO First Thursdays