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On July 2, the phrase “first Friday of the month” will resound once again for downtown Franklin merchants, residents and visitors, and especially artists of all kinds from throughout Williamson County and beyond.

That’s when the Franklin Art Scene returns for the first time since March 6, 2020. The popular monthly art crawl went dormant from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving artists without one more physical location in which to display and sell their creations. Though many have been able to fall back on websites or social media for exposure to their pieces during the long downtime from the virus, there is nothing like the personal interaction with an audience the Franklin Art Scene could provide. 

Michael Damico, president of the Arts Council of Williamson County, knows this first-hand. He’s owner of both Damico Frame & Printing and Rare Prints Gallery in downtown Franklin.

“When it’s musicians or artists, it’s essentially gig-based,” Damico said. … “And when we’re talking gigs, well, that day on the calendar just zipped on by. It’s a real kick in the pants for gig-paced professionals.

“It’s fantastic we now get to rub our eyes, open the door back up and flip the lights back on and get that going again. That’s the most exciting component, in my opinion. It’s good for the artists, for the community and for the locations.”

The county’s Arts Council now oversees the Art Scene, a free event generally taking place from locations at East Main and First Avenue through Main Street to the Williamson County Archives building, as well as in other outlying spots. The art crawl celebrates Williamson County’s local craftsmanship and provides both the novice and the art connoisseur an opportunity to see a wide variety of work, from blown glass and turned wood to paintings and sculpture.

After consulting in March with state, county and city officials regarding a safe return of the Friday evening event, it was decided that July seemed a reasonable time. Since then, of course, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that those who have been fully vaccinated can remove their masks outdoors and indoors and in crowds. Those who haven’t been vaccinated should continue to wear masks and adhere to social-distancing guidelines.

Regardless, Damico said, the Arts Council will not be overseeing specific safety protocols. Those will be left to the discretion of individual locations.

“We’ll stand behind and support the decisions of each of these locations,” he said. The [Arts Council] itself is primarily a promotional tool; we help to organize and promote this event. 

“At the end of the day, each location is absolutely in charge of handling and managing its own set of rules and guidelines. We definitely still stand behind social distancing. We will not mandate masks nor can we mandate masks. That is not our position nor is it our authority.”

As president of the Arts Council and an owner of one of the locations where art will be displayed, Damico is looking forward to the first Friday in July.

“Our team is chomping at the bit,” he said. “Not only am I the organizer; I’m a customer.”

The Franklin Art Scene runs from 6-9 p.m. in businesses and venues throughout downtown Franklin. Visit the Arts Council's Facebook page for updates, and for those interested in participating as an artist, as a venue or as a volunteer, email [email protected].

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