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New Art March Parade and Festival travels one happy mile through Starland

Art March Parade & Festival

April 8, 3-9 p.m., DeSoto Avenue parking lot, 41st and Whitaker

Parade from 3-4 p.m., Festival 4-9 p.m.

THERE’S A BIT of a standing, good-natured joke around our office that every issue of Connect has to have some story involving Clinton Edminster.

That said, if there’s a project of note in the grassroots arts community, chances are Clinton is involved.

The director of Art Rise Savannah and owner of Starlandia Supply is one of Savannah’s most engaging and energetic young creative thinkers and doers.

One such project is the brand-new Art March Parade and Festival happening this Saturday in the Starland District. While Art Rise Savannah formerly sponsored a Starland-area Art March for several years, this event is actually, well, a March.

Add in some live music, food trucks, and pop-up galleries from Kobo Gallery and Art Rise Savannah, and you’ve got yourself a great addition to the local festival calendar.

The Art March Parade will start at 41st and Whitaker, travel east to Habersham, travel north to 38th, travel west down 38th to Montgomery, take a right and travel to 41st, and take another right and return to 41st and Whitaker. The parade is about a mile long and will take about an hour.

Confirmed groups include the Thomas Square Neighborhood Association, Samba Savannah, Savannah Bicycle Campaign, Ms. Amy’s School of Music, Sustainativity, Baldwin Park Neighborhood Association, The Mint Julep Queens, Gypsy World, Alpha Media, Unity of Savannah, MetroStar Community Garden, Escape Savannah, the Poeling Family, Savannah Midwifery, and Tybee Island Art Association.

We spoke to Clinton last week.

With everything else you’ve got going on, why this? Why now?

Edminster: We felt like it was time to shake things up. Art Rise Savannah successfully coordinated over 60 Art Marches in the Starland District. The Art March concept ended up being incredibly successful in creating a community of businesses that could coordinate things internally with themselves.

When we started doing the Art March, nobody in this area really knew anybody else. We were one of the first vehicles of interbusiness cooperation in Starland.

We realized last year that the Art March had graduated to the next level. We asked ourselves, what can we do to get a lot of people excited? It culminated in the idea of taking the Art March concept — and actually marching!

I love the idea of the ‘guerrilla art takeover’ of porches along the route.

I can’t think of anything more Savannah than that! We have these incredible porches all throughout this neighborhood.

We were looking for spaces to do creative things for the march, and we realized we could use all these porches on the route itself.

What actually inspired the parade idea?

A key inspiration for the whole idea came from the BeltLine Lantern Parade in Atlanta. Huge numbers of people march with lanterns after sundown, and there is a temporary art exhibition all along the route.

Myself and Coco Papy and Dare Dukes went to Macon for a conference on investment in the arts. I happened to meet the creator of the Lantern Parade, Chantelle Rytter, there. I was really drawn to her — she’s such an exciting, positive person.

The more we learned about their work with the BeltLine we thought, this is really interesting.

Since beginning in 2010, that event has grown from a small event to over 60,000 people. But you have to ask the question: Is that really fun? 60,000 people?

That’s a serious parade at that point, with logistical headaches to match.

We were talking about the other parades in Savannah, and how each one seems to have appeal to a particular group. There’s St. Patrick’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, the Beach Bum Parade. We started thinking about how we could get a lot of different people excited about a parade.

And we thought that doing a cool art parade is a great way to get a lot of different folks involved from a lot of different backgrounds.

I get the sense that you don’t really think bigger is necessarily better when it comes to serving the community well.

Last summer Art Rise did a program and event called Artists of Social Change. It was honestly one of my favorite events we’ve ever done. I’m really big on the idea of doing gentler events more at the human level. Not big, not corporate, not expensive.

Just small and neighborly, very much built or grown, not designed to the nth degree. We like to be a little rough around the edges.

There are a lot of nonprofits in town where the fundraising tail seems to wag the dog. It seems like Art Rise Savannah has stayed focused on the mission instead of the goal being just to raise more and more money.

The biggest resource we have is that we are small flipping the whole concept on its head. There’s real value to smallness and gentleness. You can be more proactive. It makes for a lighter, more shareable experience.