First Thursdays

The Whitechapel Gallery, London

Jan Flisek-Boyle, 14.12.2012
The Whitechapel Gallery is a touchstone for contemporary art internationally, and also plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape.

First Thursdays was launched by the gallery in 2007 to open up the east London art scene to new audiences and to sustain the area as a vibrant local and international destination. On the first Thursday of every month over 170 galleries and museums in east London are open till 9pm with free events, talks, exhibitions and private views.  

Visitors can take away free printed art maps, attend free curated bus tours and walking tours by prominent arts professionals.

Online activity includes a First Thursday website that features listings from over 170 participating galleries and a digital interactive map. The scheme is also promoted by consistent and targeted e-marketing and social media, which has resulted in strong growth of site visits each month.

First Thursdays allows city workers and young professionals to engage with culture outside of working hours. Supported by partnerships with Jameson Irish Whiskeys and Time Out, the project has targeted socially-motivated visitors.

The promotion offered by First Thursdays is vital to the survival of many small galleries in the local community and puts the Whitechapel Gallery at the heart of London’s contemporary art quarter.

In 2012 the Whitechapel aims to develop a First Thursdays app. Encouraging participation and shared experience, the app will enhance the visitor’s experience and ensure that First Thursdays continues to reach diverse audiences that benefit local communities and galleries.

Jan Flisek-Boyle is an audience development assistant at the Whitechapel Gallery