Winnipeg's Nuit Blanche has grown in size and popularity to the point where more security will likely be needed in future, organizers say.
The seventh annual Nuit Blanche, organized by the not-for-profit Manitoba Culture Days, saw more than 20,000 people hit the streets of Winnipeg to take in art and various events at 92 different art expositions and installations in St. Boniface, downtown and in the Exchange District starting at dusk Sept. 30 and going into the wee hours of Oct. 1.
During this year's event, someone pepper sprayed a crowd gathered for a celebration at Old Market Square in the early hours of Oct. 1. There also have been complaints about large groups of people spilling into the street outside venues.
Melissa Courcelles, project manager with Manitoba Culture Days, said organizers want to boost the event's infrastructure, including security.
"It is really a fun event and we don't want to kill that vibe, but it is getting large and we need to have some things in place," she said.
The event is currently organized by a team of three people.
"We're trying to keep growing the event because the participation has grown so much, but the infrastructure and the operations budget hasn't overly grown."
Planning for 2018
The team is already planning next year's event, and organizers are reaching out to the city and local Business Improvement Zones to help keep the event safe, Courcelles said. They're also looking at the possibility of closing more streets in 2018.
"We did shut down some streets this year, but of course, there's some streets that are a bit hard to shut down because they are fire routes," she said.
Courcelles said overall, this year's Nuit Blanche was a success.
"The attendance was absolutely overwhelming," she said. "It's nice to see that many people downtown and I think the artists had a great experience, too."
Roughly 55,000 people took part in Manitoba Culture Days this year, with 445 free events in Winnipeg and 25 communities outside the city, Courcelles said.