Art Walk is free for most of you (not counting the price of beer), but for the first time organizers will have to pay an $8,800 cover charge to the city of L.A. for the privilege of getting their mass stroll on this Thursday.

The price for Art Walk's velvet rope so to speak isn't that bad considering that City Hall actually waived about $25,000 in fees for all the extra cops it takes to patrol the thing, Art Walk executive director Joe Moller tells the Weekly.

The toll was a long time coming:

As far back as last year downtown Art Walk was in turmoil after some of its organizers pulled the plug, declaring that cops were asking for their cut to cover the costs of extra officers there.

Art Walk “has grown so large that it has become too costly to manage in its current form,” organizers stated on the Art Walk website.

While core beneficiaries of the walk, namely galleries, wanted it to continue, others used the turmoil to complain that the event had turned into just another excuse for hipsters to party downtown.

But the party went on.

Then, at July's Art Walk, a freak accident took the life of a 2-month-old in a stroller after a young, unlicensed driver jumped the curb in an attempt at parallel parking.

Once again critics said the party had gone out of bounds, and the city formed on task force to consider ways to rein it in. The last Art Walk saw new limits under task force recommendations, including the relocation of food trucks outside the core Art Walk zone, the nixing of live or amplified music, and limits on vendors.

On Tuesday the City Council voted to levy the $8,800 for Thursday's Art Walk and to officially deem it a “special event” — which means it's liable for such costs.

Moller says it's a small price to pay and that he'll be hitting up retailers — galleries, bars, restaurants — that benefit:

It's a huge economic and social engine for downtown. Where else in the world do you have 20,000 to 40,000 customers outside your door? It's 12 chrsitmases a year for these businesses.


LA Weekly