Looking to revitalize lower State Street, the city of Santa Barbara plans to hold “Experiment Weekend” this Friday through Sunday.
“The Experiment Weekend is a series of demonstration projects to help the community learn different possibilities for downtown,” said Nina Johnson, senior assistant to the city administrator.
The event calls for outdoor dining, art exhibits and music, and pop-up shops from entrepreneurs.
Santa Barbara is looking to recraft Santa Barbara’s image and bring more people to the downtown area.
The 400 block of State Street and below, in particular, has struggled with high vacancy rates and the presence of homeless people harassing shoppers or panhandling.
“We want everyone to go shopping, have dinner at a new restaurant, take the shuttle for free to an art experience at the underpass,” Johnson said. “If you’ve sworn off downtown, it’s time to return and try something new.”
Johnson said the goal is to re-envision what downtown Santa Barbara could be.
“The 400 block, in particular, needs a lot of attention, so we’re having our first event there,” Johnson said. “This should give that area a shot in the arm. We also have two vacant spaces that will be filled with pop-up shops for that weekend and probably longer.”
The art displays will be designed beneath the State Street underpass for Highway 101.
“I’d encourage everyone who attends to come with an open mind, knowing that we pulled together a few test projects on a shoestring budget to get a taste of an art project at the underpass or pedestrian promenade,” Johnson said.
The Arts Fund will present art displays and experiences from 8 p.m. to midnight under the State Street underpass on Friday.
On Saturday, from noon to 10 p.m., music, art and food will be available on the 400 and 500 blocks of State Street.
Throughout the weekend, entrepreneurs will showcase their products at 429 and 430 State St.