What is SoCo?
The SoCo Cultural District was created and founded in 2016 by a group of business owners and center directors, under the direction of visual artist and gallery owner David Acevedo. At first, a monthly art crawl called SoCo Second Saturday was established, in order to bring attention to the area and solidify the union of these arts and cultural venues. The innaugural SoCo Second Saturday art crawl was held on 10/8/16 in the newly established SoCo Cultural District.
Nineteen months later, in June of 2018, the SoCo Second Saturday event transformed into a Calendar of Events for the district. The focus shifted from a once-a-month gathering to an every month, all year round, open district with events, sales, shows, classes, exhibitions and more, happening at different times of the month. Finally, this district has been established and with more cultural businesses and venues joining regularly, it has the potential to grow even more.
The SoCo Second Saturday event map, which was originally used to guide art crawlers from one venue to the other, is now a guide to the district with ads, coupons and special information about all of the things you can find within the district.
Some of the Cultural Venues within the SoCo Cultural District are:
· Alliance for the Arts
· Broadway Palm Dinner Theater
· DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts
· The Union Artist Studios at the Art Loft
· Ocasiocasa at the Art Loft
· Luciano Deandrade’s Studio Os Urbanos
· A Swedish Affair
· Suzanne's Dance Fitness
· DM Paper Designs
· Frank Jean, LMT
· Yoga Bird
· Masters Men’s Grooming Services
· Restaurants in the Royal Palm Square
Find all locations for SoCo Cultural Venues in the SoCo Map section of this website.
Come and #dothedistrict. Shop here and help the SoCo Cultural District grow!
Second Saturdays are officially over. But don’t worry, says event co-founder David Acevedo: The SoCo Cultural District remains alive and well and ready to entertain and delight you.
Until now, Second Saturdays were the signature event for SoCo, a self-proclaimed district consisting of art galleries, theaters, restaurants and other businesses located in the Royal Palm Square and Alliance for the Arts area.
Reminiscent of Art Walk in downtown Fort Myers — which Acevedo also co-founded — Second Saturdays took place on the second Saturday of every month. The events involved SoCo businesses coordinating simultaneous art openings, wine tastings, live bands and other activities.
Now the district is leaving that 20-month-old event behind. In its place: A new focus on things that happen every day in SoCo (which gets its name from a contraction of “South of Colonial,” a reference to the district’s borders of Colonial and McGregor boulevards).
“We didn’t want to be a one-day-a-month event anymore,” says Acevedo, co-owner of DAAS Co-Op art gallery. “We wanted to evolve.”
Instead of focusing on Second Saturdays, SoCo will start promoting events happening throughout the month.
The Alliance for the Arts, for example, opens its new Augmented Reality art exhibit this Friday. Suzanne’s Dance Fitness throws a ballroom- and swing-dancing party on June 9. Yoga Bird studio holds a workshop June 15 on chakras. And DAAS Co-Op puts on a bake sale June 23 to raise money for kids with cancer.
“Now it’s just SoCo all the time,” Acevedo says.
Hand in hand with the updated website are maps of SoCo and its businesses. They’ll be available throughout the district and also can be printed from the website.
Acevedo says people often stop by DAAS and ask him, “What else is there to do around here?” Now he can show them with the new map.
Acevedo admits Second Saturdays had their ups and downs, and that’s one reason they're no longer happening.
During tourist season, the event could draw as many as 200-300 people, he says. But off season, that number could dwindle substantially — especially if there was a big competing event such as Bike Night happening elsewhere.
On top of that, not all SoCo businesses participated every month in Second Saturdays. They often had their own scheduled events and obligations, Acevedo says.
Now they can take things at their own pace.
“It’s easier for everybody,” Acevedo says. “There’s not one mandatory night.”
Besides, Second Saturday has already done what organizers wanted it to do, he says. It helped bring SoCo businesses to the public’s attention.
“Second Saturday was a way to get the district known,” Acevedo says. “And it served its purpose.”
“It’s done wonderful things to bring people here,” says Ripoll, managing artist at Union Artists Studio on the Alliance for the Arts campus. “We have so many people coming and saying, ‘I didn’t even know you were here.’”
Now people do know. And Ripoll says she’s looking forward to SoCo’s next chapter.
“It’s just bigger and better,” she says.
Learn more about SoCo at socoswfl.com.
Connect with this reporter: Charles Runnells (Facebook), @charlesrunnells (Twitter), @crunnells1 (Instagram)