Live on the Plaza Celebrates 10 Years

The Plaza District celebrated 10 years of Live on the Plaza, a monthly festival showcasing the district and local vendors and artists, on July 13. 

“Live on the Plaza is our monthly block party/artwalk,” said Selena Skorman, executive director of the Plaza District. “Its intention is to be a gathering for the community.”

Every second Friday each month from April to September, the artwalk brings in local food trucks, artists and non-profits to showcase their offerings alongside the existing shops and restaurants in the district.

The celebration also includes special events that are based on the month’s theme, and the businesses involved often bring in live music.

Businesses in the district often have special offers that go with the theme, according to Skorman. The featured non-profit generally matches the theme of the month in what they do or who they help.

This month’s theme was focused around the event’s birthday and celebration. New elements to carry into the future were combined with the best elements of the past 10 years.

The Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma was the featured non-profit and sold anniversary shirts, as it is one of the longest-running businesses in the district.

The Lyric Theatre also featured Hipster Santa and swag grab bags. District businesses specials included DNA Galleries’ raffle for Support Local Art prizes, The Forge OKC’s live forging and $10 specialty items and Dig It’s $10 sunglasses and 10 percent off purchases. Oklahoma’s Credit Union had a giant Pong game, the Plaza District Association provided chalk for Chalk the Plaza and 92.9 The Edge (radio station) live broadcasted the event. 

“Our business owners are often the ones coordinating live music,” Skorman said.

The So Help Me’s performed on the Velvet Monkey Salon roof as part of a throwback to a similar stint five years ago.  Bad Granny’s Bazaar used the large corner outside the shop as a performance space for One Two Ten.

“There’s a lot of youth in this district, a lot of talent,” said Diana Harris, owner of Bad Granny’s Bazaar. “They get a lot of exposure. There’s a lot of people down here seeing them.”

Harris said that her shop has live music almost every month, but the the musicians almost always come to her. The music started in Bad Granny’s large back room, but moved outside to better use the space.  She asked One Two Ten back for this event, as they had been a favorite from the past few months.

This month’s food trucks included Maples Barbecue, Phil Me Up Cheesesteak, and Yum Pig OKC. Nine featured artists, including Valeria Tello, Ashley Lewis and Taylor Martin, displayed various art forms in pop-up booths along the sidewalks.

Skorman said the featured artists are all different, while Harris said they add to the shops already there.

Although the businesses, food trucks, featured artists and featured non-profits add to the overall atmosphere, it takes a team of volunteers and workers to pull everything together.  Skorman said that sometimes a company will come in as a featured booth and head the month’s festival, but often extra support comes from corporate sponsors Fowler Automotive and Oklahoma’s Credit Union.

“It takes a village,” Skorman said. “We can’t do it without the community – business owners, volunteers and workers.”

Friends of the Plaza, a special group for anyone 21 and over that pay a yearly fee, often help as volunteers before or during the event.  As members, they have access to a VIP lounge that moves around the district every month and offers complimentary drinks and food. This month’s VIP area was sponsored by Fowler Automotive and Anthem Brewing Company, LLC in the Lyric Theatre courtyard.

The original intent of Live on the Plaza was to bring people to the district once its revitalization began.

“Now that people are coming to the district, maybe we need to tailor [Live] to people’s needs and trends,” Skorman said.

It’s this mindset that drove this month’s theme of bringing in the best of the past with new things that carry it into the future. They try to keep everything at the festival local to really draw in a local crowd from around town the the neighborhoods to the north (Gatewood Historic District) and south (Ten Penn).

“It’s always changing and has changed a lot over the past 10 years,” Harris said. “[The district has] done a great job definitely keeping it local, where the neighborhood still comes in.”

The Plaza District is on the northwest side of downtown, centered on 16th Street between Classen Boulevard and Pennsylvania Avenue.

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