The Gahanna Area Arts Council recently finished the first summer of its monthly community festival, First Friday Arts in the Alley, but residents haven't heard the last of the group's effort.

The Arts Council Board of Directors has announced the festival will continue next year.

"This is a great start to what we hope becomes a Gahanna tradition," said Kevin Dengel, board president. "It proves that the arts are alive and well within our community, and it gives us encouragement that Gahanna can support even more arts events."

The Sept. 7 Arts in the Alley First Friday included a surprise announcement that the arts council will open its first headquarters in a house at 116 Mill St., directly across from Creekside Plaza.

"It's the perfect location," said Christian Peck, board communications chairman. "We believe the arts should be integrated and accessible to everyday life, so we were looking for a place in our downtown. We feel so lucky to have found this opportunity, where First Fridays can continue to happen right in our backyard."

The arts council is leasing the building at a reduced rate from the Schneider Insurance Agency, located next door.

"We really want to thank Tom Schneider for making this possible," said Juli Hess, board secretary. "When we first approached him, seeking permission to use portions of the property for Arts in the Alley, we had no idea he would be so generous.

"But the relationship evolved as we shared with him our vision for the community. He's been so supportive, both as a landlord and as a proponent of the arts," Hess said.

The house needs some renovation before the move can begin, but the arts council already is making plans.

"Having this home means we can host gallery shows and performances year-round, independent of the weather," Dengel said. "Now you won't have to wait until next summer to experience more local arts activity."

An exhibition could take place as early as October, according to Peck.

Arts council volunteer and event organizer Megan Adams said the First Friday Arts in the Alley series, which began in July, was an overwhelming success.

Several community members embraced it, something evident at the September event.

At the last event for the season, 4-year-old Nicholas Ohanyan of Gahanna was all smiles after getting his face painted like a tiger by Bea Sull, a sophomore at Columbus Academy.

Delaney Ferguson, a 2018 Gahanna Lincoln High School graduate, set up a booth in July and September to take orders for her business, Delaney's Dog Drawings.

She draws portraits of dogs from photographs.

Carol Ross of the Baker's Rack said she hopes to return next year with her homemade sweets.

"This is a nice block party," she said.

With these three First Friday events, Adams said, the works of more than 80 local artists were featured and more than 6,000 guests attended, most of whom were Gahanna residents.

"We want to thank everyone who came out and supported the event," she said.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla