As we all continue to recover from the setbacks of the last few years, downtown economic development professionals and marketing experts have found unique ways to accelerate the recovery and shape the narrative by creating and promoting compelling new programs and events for their districts.
Sub Topics: Events
Planning Successful Holiday & Winter Decor Activations
Just like painting, achieving success with décor activations is all about the prep work. Garrett Peterson from Downtown Decorations, Inc. will explain the steps involved in the process, from infrastructure requirements to design and considerations for install storage and maintenance.
Mounting Successful Gallery Walks in Vacant Store Fronts
In 2021, three vastly different-sized NYC BIDS (Columbus Avenue BID, Alliance for Downtown New York, and East Midtown Partnership) partnered with a new arts nonprofit to display art and create gallery walks in vacant storefronts. This presentation dives into their experiences and best practices on how to create a theme, put together a call for submissions to artists, recruit property owners and anticipate expenses and legal requirements.
Festival of Markets
The Festival of Markets took place in December 2021 for four consecutive weekends on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and a one day event held on December 23rd. Each weekend had a different theme and vendors including IndigenART, POPArt, Very Vintage Xmas, Afrik and Last Minute London. Vendors who were featured at our Festival of Markets came from various ethnicities including individuals from African, Asian and Indigienous descent as well as members from the LGBTQ+ community.
Marriages on The Mile – Weddings at Wrigley
Marriages on The Mile – Weddings at Wrigley was a first-time event collaboration between The Magnificent Mile Association and The Wrigley Building/Zeller. It existed as the premier event of a larger closed-street activation series on Michigan Avenue. The event featured 50 real-time weddings for couples displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic in a very public, very Chicago-centric location on The Magnificent Mile as part of the free, accessible lineup of programming on September 26, 2021.
Mpls Downtown reanimation: collective action
Downtowns across the country are changing. The stakes for the future of downtowns could not be higher, with the vitality of urban cores hinging on employees returning to their offices and patrons returning to restaurants, events and activities. The Mpls Downtown Council recognized the weight of the moment early and identified an opportunity in our community to lead with collective action.
Night Circus: A District New Year’s Spectacular
The Cool Spring Downtown District partnered with the city to launch the inaugural Night Circus: A District New Year’s Eve Spectacular. The family-friendly event was the first NYE celebration to occur in the city in nearly a decade. The event brought the magic of a traveling circus to the heart of Fayetteville. As the last seconds to midnight counted down, a commissioned 18ft. multi-colored star rose above the crowd, illuminated at midnight from within and without via a vibrant fireworks display.
Sundays on State
Chicago Loop Alliance identified the need for a program to accelerate economic recovery, unite the community, and create joy. The project also needed to encourage people back to the Loop and restore their perception of the area. The concept for Sundays on State was to close Chicago’s most iconic street, to all traffic on select Sundays during the summer and transform into an open street full of art, culture, active recreation, food, drinks, shopping, and local attractions.
The Junction Window Wonderland Exhibition
Toronto’s magical Window Wonderland, a free immersive urban art walk, returned to the Junction for its second consecutive year. From November 2021 to January 2022, Window Wonderland transformed the Junction into an interactive, outdoor gallery featuring 20 unique augmented reality (AR) installations by 40 talented local and international artists.
Market was a series of outdoor summer artisan markets in collaboration with local artist collectives. On three weekends in the summer of 2021, visitors could enjoy an outdoor craft fair, and then stick around to see what else was happening in the neighbourhood.
$3 Food Walk & Station Opening Festival
The $3 Food Walk and U District Station Opening Festival was an all-day event planned and executed by the U District Partnership to celebrate two neighborhood milestones: the return of 73,000 students, faculty, and staff in-person at the University of Washington, and the opening of a Light Rail Station. The event featured street closures, colorful decorations, a main stage with eight local performance groups, a beer garden, and a $3 food walk with 45 participating U District businesses.
Advancing Places: Holiday and Winter Activations
It’s that time of year again where we need to start planning for holiday events and winter activations. Join this webinar and learn about three different organizations who have developed holiday events and activations to draw consumers to their districts and also learn how some organizations are embracing winter and getting people out during the cold winter months.
Case-studies from Downtown Mesa Association, Tenderloin Community Benefit District, and East Cut Community Benefit District about nontraditional fund development strategies. Place management organizations are going beyond assessments and finding sources to support programs that build communities in their neighborhoods through activation, programming, economic development, and more.
Bringing People Back Downtown Through Marketing and Events
People are eating out, going to events, and traveling again… so why do some districts feel as alive as ever while other districts struggle to bring people back? In this presentation, leaders from districts of all sizes will share the placemaking, events and marketing strategies that have brought visitors, tourists
, and even office workers back downtown. Learn why some audiences are reluctant to return, and the role districts can play in persuading them to fall in love with our districts again.
Rob Higgins Master Talk
Since 2004, Rob Higgins has promoted the development of community sports and led the Tampa Bay Sports Commission as the principal organization that bids on and hosts sports and entertainment events in the Tampa Bay area.
Downtown Sioux Falls Burger Battle
Perhaps the best way to describe Burger Battle is to share the copy from DTSF’s website: Prepare your taste buds for battle! The 8th Annual Downtown Burger Battle presented by the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Foundation kicks off January 2, 2021 and will continue through the month of January. Participating restaurants will exemplify the breadth and variety of downtown dining by showcasing the classic American burger.
Shadows at Sixth
“Shadows at Sixth: An Elevated Halloween Drive Thru” is unlike any event seen in Little Rock before. Held in a multi-level parking deck in downtown Little Rock, this drive-thru, family-friendly event was created to bring joy and fun safely to Central Arkansans in a time of uncertainty and isolation.
Virtual First Friday
Downtown Ventures’ Virtual First Friday promotion boosted community support for creative-sector retailers affected by COVID-19 closures. When Downtown Colorado Springs’ monthly gallery hop was canceled, Virtual First Friday bridged the patronage gap, pushing online sales as well as social media attention.
O2: Outdoor Office
Rosslyn, Virginia is a community of over 25,000 employees and 15,000 residents who work or live in the buildings that make up Arlington’s iconic skyline along the Potomac River. Dozens of large, top-tier companies like Nestle, Microsoft, Deloitte and Gartner call Rosslyn home, so when the pandemic hit, the Rosslyn BID quickly began re-envisioning the future of work in Rosslyn, not only for employees, but the Rosslyn residents that were now working from home.
Street Show Artists Unite for Justice
Street Show Artists Unite for Justice was a virtual expansion of our street performance program that produced live streaming shows from our regular slate of street performers, as well as specially recorded and edited “Street Show Gems” that were taped at quintessential locations throughout downtown Minneapolis. Following George Floyd’s killing, all artist payments were matched by Mpls DID contributions to social justice organizations selected by the participating artists.
World of Winter
The World of Winter Festival is a two-month long festival that takes advantage of Michigan’s cold climate to provide interesting ways for people to experience and enjoy the season. This Festival aspires to make Grand Rapids a more active winter city, making Grand Rapids an active year-round city by hosting all activities outdoors in public spaces. All programming and activities are FREE, socially distanced for these pandemic times and geared for both families and adults.
Make It Bright on Fifth Avenue
Fifth Avenue, the world’s most famous street and the centerpiece of New York City’s holiday splendor brightened the Big Apple like never before with Make it Bright, a new campaign that takes two-holiday staples – toys and lights – to a new level.
Downtown Vision designed Halloweek as our first foray into holding safe events and promotions during the pandemic. This multi-pronged holiday celebration allowed us to promote and support Downtown Jacksonville’s small businesses and to create socially distanced, family friendly events for Halloween week 2020. Three key elements composed Halloweek: Decorating Downtown, Driving Traffic to Small Businesses, and Creating a Socially Responsible, Family Friendly Event for the Community.
Holiday Movie Food and Drink Week
Downtown Norfolk Council produced the first ever Holiday Movie Food and Drink Week. For this special holiday celebration, Downtown Norfolk chefs got creative and had a lot of fun reimagining iconic food and drinks from everyone’s favorite holiday movies and specials. For one week from December 4-11, Downtown Norfolk restaurants put their own unique spin on recognizable food, drinks, and memorable scenes from holiday classics for a creative and delicious helping of festive nostalgia.
al Fresco off Main and Downtown Dash
The City of Mesa and the Downtown Mesa Association (DMA), introduced a great way to “extend” patio dining for all of the restaurants in the downtown Mesa District—no matter the restaurant’s outside capacity. al Fresco off Main is a fenced off area with plenty of outdoor, distanced seating where people can bring food they ordered from any downtown Mesa restaurant or their brown bag meal to enjoy their refreshments in the middle of downtown.
The Care Campaign
The Care Campaign is a collection of 14 murals that popped up in our Downtown Dartmouth business district in fall 2020. We worked with a member business to create a placemaking project that would encourage people to feel embraced and connected, at least in mind and spirit, while circumstances beyond anyone’s control make that physically impossible. We received feedback from people of all walks of life that the Care Campaign murals have brought them feelings of happiness and inspiration.
Shattuck East Renaming Project – Kala Bagai Way
The intent of the engagement process was to create a dynamic, transparent, unique, accessible and low-cost process to receive submissions from the community. Renaming a street is no small feat, especially in a City with a politically active population and a City that has a world renowned University with stellar faculty, graduates and staff.
Advancing Places: Public Private Partnerships for Placemaking and Activations
Activating public space is crucial to bringing people back to the district as we move into recovery mode. Making this happen takes a lot of work developing the right partnerships to make your activations successful. Learn from two seasoned professionals how they approached activations during the pandemic and how they are moving into recovery mode which includes incorporating storefronts to benefit businesses more directly.
Advancing Places: Holiday and Winter Place Activations
It may be summer but it’s never too early to start thinking about holiday events, lighting and winter activations. Join this webinar to hear how Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. is embracing all seasons to make it a four seasons city. During the pandemic they curated a two-month long activation, “World of Winter.” This 2021 Pinnacle Award-winning project attracted over 400,000 attendees during the cold winter months. Next, learn about holiday and lighting programs from the Georgetown BID. And finally, Midtown Alliance in Atlanta will present how they have added onto their Midtown Bright program each year as it continues to grow.
Advancing Places: Innovative Events
City builders have been working hard to turn lemons into lemonade for the past six months. As summer winds down, marketing and events professionals are steadfast in brainstorming new ideas to keep their communities healthy and engaged during the coming months. Join this webinar to discover how two practitioners are working to both re-imagine their premier annual events and think outside the box for brand new district-wide activations.
Advancing Places: The Future of Events
Producing events during a time of public health uncertainty can be challenging. This session explores how three organizations are revamping their events, enhancing their social media strategy and creating inviting spaces while limiting attendance. Speakers will discuss the future of events and the inconsistencies each of them are facing regarding the decisions to hold events. Join this webinar to learn from other experiences and engage in conversation with colleagues on this complex topic.
Bringing Innovation to Sponsorships
The most unique and successful sponsorships utilize available assets such as events, initiatives, infrastructure and more to deepen a connection with the target audiences. If a BID is innovative and nimble when developing the sponsorship strategy and activation, both the sponsor and the BID will win. A strong activation is defined by the way the brand/sponsor, assets and promotional levers are used together to drive results and tell a larger story.
Placemaking & Events Roundtable
Has the pandemic paused your district’s placemaking and public events or have you been able to adjust to the new realities of physical-distancing and face-coverings? This roundtable conversation will focus on sharing new ideas and necessary innovations for pandemic-era placemaking and public events.
’80s Mall Party
In 2018 we moved our offices into the old Main Street Mall in downtown Little Rock. In the early 1980s the building was full of retail stores and restaurants. However, the state of Arkansas wound up purchasing the building and converting it into a variety of state agency offices – but the interior remained untouched. Think glass block, black and white tile, teal paint and colors, neon signs, glass elevators and working escalators. It was a space screaming for a throwback ’80s party!
2019 Holiday Placemaking Initiative
During the 2018 holiday season, we saw a competing town center in our region offering holiday event content that was distressingly similar to ours – Shopping! Dining! Skating! Santa! We quickly realized we needed to take steps to truly differentiate and improve on our downtown holiday experience to make our downtown THE holiday destination.
ACTIVATE is a series of pop-up celebrations of public art that take place in alleys and other underutilized public spaces in the Loop. ACTIVATE is free to the public, bringing Chicagoans from 74 unique zip codes to the Loop during times that are traditionally less busy.
Writing on the Walls
Writing on the Walls is an annual series of collaborative public art installations and events. At the inaugural event in March 2020, local, national and international artists simultaneously created two new landmarks in downtown Austin, including our city’s largest mural to date. This mural is located on the iconic Congress Avenue, 11 blocks south of the state capitol, and located at the gateway into downtown Austin.
Unbranded is an experimental pop-up shop showcasing the finest work of Dallas’ robust creative community. Sponsored by Downtown Dallas, Inc. throughout the past five holiday seasons, Unbranded brings together a unique, diverse group of vendors – typically local artists, artisans, and designers trying to expand their small, often online-only businesses – each year to provide a special, one-of-a-kind shopping experience for all Downtown residents, employees, and visitors.
Each winter, the various departments within DDP work in tandem to light up Downtown Detroit – hence Detroit Aglow! The BIZ illuminates Downtown with seasonal lighting that enhances the physical characteristics of the Downtown parks and streets. The BIZ focuses on pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular gateways to make dark winter traveling brighter and safer. The DDP Parks team creates a season of programming centered around the tree lighting ceremony and the popular ice-skating rink.
BIG BIRTHDAY BASH
No parent wants to tell their child “no” to a birthday party, but in Memphis, a city where nearly a quarter of families live below the poverty line, parents may not have the resources to throw that dream birthday party. Watching families host small parties in our parks, we saw an opportunity to condense resources and throw the BIG BIRTHDAY BASH! Set on Mud Island River Park the event featured bounce houses, water slides, games, cake and more all for free and close to 2,000 people attended.