BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Art, shopping, music and cultural history are the keys to bringing foot traffic back to the Village, the local chamber of commerce says.
The Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce is launching the Live the Village initiative to remind locals and tourists alike of all that the neighborhood has to offer.
(It’s live as in “live and let live,” as opposed to “Live at the Apollo.”)
The initiative — which will stretch from the spring through the fall — will include three major events to promote local businesses and “encourage community engagement.”
In the first event, running April 15 to July 8, the chamber will partner with Art on the Ave, a public-arts initiative that will fill vacant storefront windows with installations by local artists. So far, the plan includes 10 vacant storefront windows — plus, three merchants who are still in business also want to participate.
There will also be a walk around the Village that will include an interactive art experience, community events and an opportunity to support local businesses.
The goal of the Art on the Ave project, according to the chamber, is to “bring a sense of confidence, pride and excitement back to the local neighborhood and economy.”
Also in the mix is a “rebranded” Shop Bleecker, the chamber’s annual shopping event that promotes the West Village’s merchants. The chamber is currently discussing a rebrand of the program, to make it more inclusive of non-retail merchants both on the famed Bleecker St. and on neighboring streets. A decision on a new name has not been made yet.
Specifically, this year, the event will shift from pre-Christmas shopping to summertime outdoor “experiences and events.” The idea of the campaign, according to G.V.C.C.C. is to “remind everyone that the West Village is still one of the best places in the city to shop, eat and play.”
The final ingredient in the Live the Village recipe is The Village Trip festival, which will return this year from Sept. 18 to Oct. 2. Founded by British writer and Village devotee Liz Thomson, The Village Trip festival will shine a light on the neighborhood’s unique artistic and cultural history, focusing on its folk music scene.
Maria Diaz, the G.V.C.C.C. executive director, said this year, for the first time, the chamber will help in promoting The Village Trip. In addition to a concert in Washington Square Park, the chamber and Village Trip are working to hold a smaller music event in Father Demo Square. They’re currently working on securing permits for the concerts.
Diaz said the hope is that Live the Village will help merchants return to “a sense of normalcy” soon.
“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the Village in unique ways,” she said. “The streets have been the quietest they’ve ever been, businesses are short-staffed, and many were forced to close their doors, some temporary and some permanently.
“The vaccine rollout has created a sense of hope that we will soon get back to a sense of normalcy this summer,” she added. “That’s why, it’s important now more than ever to bring foot traffic back to the Village, so that we can support our local businesses and business owners after such a difficult year.”
The Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce is a membership-based organization serving small and large businesses in Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Soho, Union Square, Noho, Flatiron and the East Village.