From music festivals to business recruitments projects, 11 initiatives are set to benefit this summer with financial support from the new Re-Imagine Downtown Activation Grant.
The concept originated through the Heart of Our City Committee (HOCC) re-imagining how to enhance vibrancy Downtown in the context of pandemic and post-pandemic realities. Announced in late May, the grant money aims to support businesses, entrepreneurs, organizations and community-minded individuals in implementing initiatives, events, and/or programs that seek to activate vacant, underutilized and under programmed private and public spaces and places within Downtown Lethbridge.
The first of four intake opportunities was open until late June. Through the evaluative process, the review panel and the HOCC prioritized grant funding based on the criteria identified in the application package, with the 11 projects partially or fully funded for a combined $99,225.
"Despite the short turn-around for applications, we saw a great deal of interest in Intake 1," says Andrew Malcom, Urban Revitalization Manager. "We received 19 applications with funding requests totaling in excess of $300,000 – thus there were not adequate funds to meet the demand. This is a great sign of things to come for Downtown Lethbridge."
"Finding initiatives looking to create a critical mass of activity that will support local businesses and provide a feeling of safety and security through positivity was a top priority," says HOCC Chair Lorien Johansen.
Total funding available for the Re-Imagine Downtown Activation Grant in 2021 is $150,000, with applications eligible for up to $25,000. Funding is provided through the Downtown Redevelopment Fund's unutilized contributions to the previous HOCC Activity Grant, which was temporarily suspended in 2020 with the continual changes to public health restrictions severely impacting the ability to plan for events and festivals in the Downtown – which support vibrancy, safety and economic stimulus for local businesses. More information can be found at lethbridge.ca/downtownincentives.
A second intake will have an October 2021 deadline, with additional details coming soon. The HOCC encourages all unsuccessful applicants to reach out to City administration with any questions, concerns, and/or to receive individualized feedback on their application. They are encouraged to reapply in Intake 2. For those with an event-based initiative, the Community Event Support Grant also has an open intake until Fall 2021. More information is here: www.lethbridge.ca/Things-To-Do/Special-Events/Pages/Grants.aspx.
Backgrounder: Re-Imagine Downtown Activation Grant Intake 1 approvals
The Grants committee has approved these projects for Intake 1:
- Upside Down - $15,000. Concert series to be held every Thursday evening from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., until September 2, on Rotary Square at Casa. Artists will include a diverse choice of musical, cultural and theatrical performances. 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 September 25 will include two stages of electronic music, an all-Canadian lineup, artisan market, beer garden and kids zone.
- Theatre Outré - $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 August 14.
- Centric Music Fest - $8,850. Running Wednesdays until August 4, Centric MusicFest is a Classical and art music festival producing hybrid performances (online and in-person) of a variety of music genres. They are looking to add outdoor pop-up concerts throughout the downtown core.
- 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 to allow for more vendors, entertainment and a space for seating.
- 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. Collected cigarettes will be shipped to Terracycle to be recycled, with $1 per pound of waste donated to the Interfaith Food Bank.
- Lunch & Listen - $1,600. The Lunch & Listen Concert Series (located downtown at Casa and free to the public) offers wonderful classical music events to the public on the First Friday of every month. They have not been offered during the pandemic, but are looking to re-start in September.