By Al Beeber on July 23, 2021.
The new Re-Imagine Downtown Activation Grant is going to help 11 initiatives this summer.
The grant recipients were announced Thursday morning across from Casa at Lighthouse restaurant.
The grant money is designed to “support businesses, entrepreneurs, organizations and community-minded individuals in implementing initiatives, events and/or programs that seek to activate vacant, under-utilized and under programmed private and public spaces and places within downtown Lethbridge,” says the City of Lethbridge.
A review panel and the Heart of Our City Committee prioritized funding based on the criteria in the application package with successful projects being rewarded with partial or full funding for a total of $99,225.
Nineteen applications with requests totalling more than $300,000 were received by the City, said Urban Revitalization Manager Andrew Malcolm in a press release.
HOCC chair Lorien Johansen told media “it’s been fun reorganizing and how we approach our applicants, how we judge all the proposals and then choosing the ones from Intake 1 that were best suited for our summer months to get us back on this road to recovery,” Johansen said.
The list includes four events focused completely on music with different styles. Also are four events focused on theatre and programming and they “welcome a wide variety of cultures and demographics,” she said.
One new project is designed to help beautify downtown.Cigarette butts will be recycled with $1 per pound of waste being donated to the Interfaith Food Bank.
“That’s really an amazing initiative and something that’s completely brand new for our city,” said Johansen.
The Building Better Business Downtown project will be a Dragon’s Den style competition, she said, and it will “encourage entrepreneurs to put together proposals, compete for spaces and guidance and hopefully fill some of our vacant storefronts downtown,” Johansen said.
Total available funding for 2021 is $150,000 with applications eligible to receive up to $25,000. An October deadline has been set for a second “intake,” says the City.
For Kate Connelly, producer of the Lethbridge Shakespeare Society, the funding will help the troupe return to downtown.
“We weren’t sure a few months back if we were going to be coming back to the downtown again. But then we decided on it and this scheme came out and we are doing five performances downtown. We’ve already done one of them in Casa a couple of weeks ago and we have our first back in Galt Gardens performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream coming up on Friday, July 30. And then we have two more to finish up our season on Aug. 19-20 in the park and we have one more performance in Casa outside or inside, depending on the weather, because you know that’s like a frying pan out there.
“I think there are proposals going forward to put shade sails over the Casa square there so it will be much more usable then. That would be used by 20 times more groups if that came to be,” said Connolly.
Suzanne Lint, executive director of the Allied Arts Council, said the Upside Down series will encourage people to stay downtown after work, enjoy music, have a drink and perhaps dine at at area restaurant afterwards.
“This is really exciting. We are thrilled we got the funding,” said Lint.
“We’ve been very slowly coming to activate Rotary Square at Casa.”
“It’s a popular music series with some well-known people out of the community,” she said, citing names including Dave McCann who performs Aug. 12 and Shaela Miller who hits the stage July 29.
Other artists performing in that series include Lemba on Aug. 5, Biloxi Parish on Aug. 19, Wendy Colby and Karen Romanchuk on Aug. 26, Bailey Kate on Sept. 2 and closing on Sept. 9 will be Fawns and Steven Foord.
The series will run 5-7 each Thursday.
Also on the plaza, there will be art installations in kiosks and a series of outdoor exhibitions, Lint says.
Successful initiatives include, according to a city press release:
* Upside Down – $15,000
Concert series to be held every Thursday evening from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., until Sept.2 on Rotary Square at Casa. A variety of food trucks will be invited in partnership with the BRZ to create a Dine in Downtown promotion.
* Building Business Downtown Project – $15,000
A business recruitment project that aims to fill vacant storefronts in downtown Lethbridge. It will include a pitch competition, professional business guidance and see-through the execution of a business idea. Judges will pick one winner, but will also have the opportunity to make connections and offer deals on leases and mentorship to other entrepreneurs.
* Lethbridge Electronic Music Fest – $14,795
This year’s LEMF on Sept. 25 will include two stages of electronic music, an all-Canadian lineup, artisan market, beer garden and kids zone.
* Theatre OutrÃ© – $12,000
This project aims to draw new audiences to Didi’s Playhaus and Downtown Lethbridge by establishing a fixture for weekly low-barrier entertainment and world-class theatre in a space inclusive to individuals from all gender, racial and sexual diversities.
* Shakespeare – $10,000
Five performances of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, presented by Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society and directed by Andrew Legg. Performances will be in Galt Gardens on July 30, August 19 and 20, and at Casa on Aug. 14.
* Centric Music Fest – $8,850
Running Wednesdays until Aug. 4, Centric MusicFest is a classical and art music festival producing hybrid performances (online and in-person) of a variety of music genres.
* Lighthouse on the Street – $7,500
To leverage the recently expanded sidewalk space in front of Lighthouse Restaurant, made possible by the 3rd Avenue Reconstruction project, they are hoping to add vibrant programming such as Taiko drumming and Tokyo Olympics viewing.
* Downtown Farmers’ Market – $6,750
The market occurs each Wednesday, beginning in July, until mid-September. This year, the market has expanded to take over the entire street space.
* LPL Outside – $4,730
Conceived by the Active Spaces team at Lethbridge Public Library with the goal of increasing positive activities at the library. By bringing library programming and events outside, they hope to attract those passing the library to come see what is happening.
* Cigarette Butt – $3,000
By creating cigarette drums and smoker poles to place around downtown, this project aims to educate citizens while reducing cigarette litter in Downtown Lethbridge.
* Lunch & Listen – $1,600
The Lunch & Listen Concert Series (located downtown at Casa and free to the public) is looking to restart in September. It offers classical music events to the public on the first Friday of every month.
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