Visit downtown Santa Barbara for 1st Thursday, an evening filled with free art, culture, music and fun! The April 4 event will include more than 35 cultural art venues eager to show off new exhibits, artist receptions, demonstrations and live music.

April’s 1st Thursday event will highlight National Poetry Month as several destinations are bringing the art of words into their venue.

Begin your poetic evening at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where a special poetry reading by former Santa Barbara poet-laureate David Starkey will read from his new collection of poetry, Circus Maximus. Also on view, “This World is Not My Home: Danny Lyon Photographs,” “Myth and Materiality: Latin American Art from the Permanent Collection,” “California Dreaming: Plein-Air Painting from San Francisco to San Diego” alongside a book signing by Lyon in the Museum Store and the 1st Thursday Family Activity in the Family Resource Center.

Continue on your evening of lyrical endeavors and visit Casa Magazine as it features Honoring the Earth in poetry, music art and their creative relationship to the group from which we spring. Join the CASA team with a sing-along and poems selected by CASA’s resident poet, Carol DeCanio, and Plant It by Rebecca Davis.

Make your way over to the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum for a unique performance by Founds Magazine creator Davy Rothbart as he will read hilarious and heartbreaking excerpts from his acclaimed magazine and essays from his book My Heart Is an Idiot.

Also, visit new downtown business WorkZones as you tour downtown’s first co-working club and meeting space as you explore your creativity with magnetic poetry, a design contest and professional headshots.

While 1st Thursday offers extraordinary exhibits and paintings indoors, be sure to check out the demonstrations, performance art and live music outdoors. Stop by the corner of State and Anapamu streets to enjoy the works by the Visual Arts & Design Academy at Santa Barbara High School, which will showcase artwork from students in the 11th-grade class.

Walk on down to Marshall’s Patio at 900 State St. to join Kat Devlin for a lively and poetic performance. Devlin is a local favorite who has created a country-hipster sound attracting the attention of listeners near and far. Sit down with the My Haiku on Wheels with MTD and take part in a poetry craft for both kids and adults from 5 to 8 p.m. Come write a three-line haiku, which has the opportunity to be featured in an ad posted in a MTD bus!

Hop on over to the Paseo Nuevo Center Court to listen to the sweet poetic sounds of Sounds Impressions, which will incorporate poetry into their music performance from 5 to 7 p.m.

End your night with The Poetry Booth, an interactive public art installation and collaborative workspace for experiencing and creating poems with the help of practiced poets and educators.

All of these attractions and many more are free during 1st Thursday on April 4. With more than 35 stops on the 1st Thursday map, there is sure to be something for everyone. Click here for more information and a complete listing of the specific programming offered at each gallery as well as all public performances and interactive exhibits.

— Kim Mercado is the marketing and event coordinator for the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization.