Visual Arts

Audrey Thacker Bringing Artisan Market-Style Event to Downtown Tempe

After Audrey Thacker faced a bitter battle with Old Town Scottsdale gallery and business owners who effectively shut down her Artisan Market events on the Scottsdale Waterfront, the event organizer started considering other options. Now, she’s found one.

Thacker is working with Downtown Tempe to launch a new event called 6th Street Market, which will open on October 2. It’s a weekly Sunday market, happening in the 6th Street Park at Tempe City Hall, located just north of Mill Avenue.

Like the Artisan Markets Thacker once held in Scottsdale, Tempe’s 6th Street Market will feature local artisans showing and selling their work, as well as local musicians.

But rather than running her own Artisan Market business, Thacker is working for a services enhancement district called Downtown Tempe Authority, which was founded in 1993 to provide management and promotion assistance to member businesses along Mill Avenue.

Thacker made the switch after Downtown Tempe reached out to talk about the possibility of moving the Artisan Market there. Ultimately, the organization decided to hire Thacker and task her with helping to create a similar event for Tempe.

Thacker's new role is as placemaking and program manager for Downtown Tempe, alongside Julie Kent. Together they’ll coordinate the 6th Street Market and undertake other projects designed to activate various open spaces in downtown Tempe.

Thacker says a new music series is already in development, and a new music festival may soon be in the works. But Thacker will also work with existing events such as art festivals and parades, knowing that it’s important to have different types of events in the mix.

“Smaller, regular events are what keep an economy growing, rather than only mega-events,” Thacker says.

So she’s busy spreading the word about 6th Street Market, and reviewing applications for artisans who want to participate. There’s a $10 jury fee, and chosen artisans pay $55 each Sunday for a 10-by-10-foot tented booth. There’s no contract, and artisans can take part as little or as often as they like. The space can accommodate about 60 vendors at this point.

Thacker hopes to add new elements to the 6th Street Market over time, including performances or demonstrations by community groups that do yoga, dance, kids’ art, and similar activities.

But even as she plans the finer points, Thacker is thinking about the big picture.

“This team of people is very passionate and eager to breathe new life into downtown Tempe, so it won’t just be a place to get wasted,” Thacker says. “Soon there will be a whole new vibe and scene going on there.”
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble