November 23, 2017

Decatur Arts Festival – Location, Location, Location

Decatur, GA held their arts festival last weekend and did a good job.

Around Atlanta, there are a ton of festivals in the spring – Dogwood Festival, Inman Park Festival, Sweetwater 420 Festival and tons more. They’re great. People are happy, the weather is gorgeous, the art is good, and there are funnel cakes! Decatur, however, does something that the others really don’t – they intertwine the festival with their town center.

Decatur Arts Festival

Decatur Arts Festival

Decatur has a distinctively awesome layout for the Atlanta area. There is a town square full of retail stores, restaurants, music venues, and offices. What’s more, underneath the middle of the area is the most perfectly placed MARTA stop – imagine, a stop where you emerge into an area of bustling activity … stuff you actually want to do. My running comment about the rail system is, “MARTA would be great if the trains went to where people wanted to go” – MARTA and Decatur got this stop right.

So we have a great town square combined with the perfect MARTA stop on top of which the city overlays an arts festival. People were enjoying lunch just steps from vendors. Bands were playing on the central gazebo (man that’s cute). There was a great synergy of the permanent and transient that highlighted the area. Bravo!

So how do they do on the CC: Scorecard? Big points for Enticement. There is something for everyone with the added bonus of a fun and social atmosphere. Because of the multi-faceted aspect of the events, I’ll go ahead and give them good points for Audience as well. The message is simple and obvious to each audience member it reaches… Art Festival in downtown Decatur. Good stuff.

However, Promotions and Connecting weren’t that good as far as I can tell. I found out about the festival initially because I saw a big banner close to Decatur – it was just luck that I was in the area. Although I don’t think they intended it, there was some success through Leveraging. I saw a couple of posts on Facebook from people that were attending and received one phone call abut the event. This was organic viral leveraging – imagine what they could do if they made a concerted effort to harness that.

Success and Simplification are hard things for any festival to address and there were no innovations that I noted in regards to this. It would be interesting to know if they polled businesses afterward to see how much their sales increased, but I’m guessing they didn’t.

The Decatur Arts festival drew me to the town center where I realized all of the restaurants I need to try there. That kind of enticement has long term economic impact and helps to enforce the idea that their town square has a lot of value with and without a festival.

Did anyone else go? What did you think?

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