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Downtown New West BIA to help activate neighbourhood's public spaces in a positive way

Have you checked out any of the place-making initiatives offered in downtown New Westminster in recent years?
Mural New West downtown
A pollinators mural in downtown New West was one of the place-making initiatives funded in 2021. Applications for 2022 are now being accepted.

If you’ve got an idea on how to build community and make the downtown more fun and inclusive, the Downtown New West BIA wants to hear from you.

In partnership with the City of New Westminster, the BIA is inviting individuals, businesses and not-for-profits to submit proposals for unique and innovative activations in public spaces in the downtown. A volunteer jury will choose three projects to support in 2022, with each receiving up to $2,500.

“Now, more than ever, we need to do our part to foster connection and come together as a community. To be able to support creativity, community building, and to improve how our downtown feels and is perceived is so important right now. We invite anyone with any idea to apply. Along with the grant money, successful recipients will receive advice, support and connections from our team to bring their idea to life,” said BIA executive director Kendra Johnston. “What I love about this program is that you don’t need experience, you don’t need to be an artist or a professional place-maker, you just need to love New West, use a little creativity and be motivated to make something amazing happen in our community.”

Activations could include dance, music, art, technology – or something totally different – but they must be safe, welcoming and inclusive to everyone. They can include single-day activations, a seasonal installation or reoccurring pop-ups.

The Downtown New West BIA launched the grant program in 2019 as a way of: fostering activations in public spaces that are safe, welcoming and inclusive; building community by encouraging people to connect with each other safely in public spaces; testing new ideas; and helping to identify/remove barriers that discourage activations of public spaces.

During the inaugural year, three initiatives were funded: the augmented reality You Are Home mural on McKenzie Street; the Festival of Circus Arts at Westminster Pier Park; and the Play New West hopscotch installation on Front Street. The program was put on hold in 2020 because of COVID-19.

When it relaunched in 2021, the project funded a pollinators mural at 611 Columbia St., the New West Letter Exchange at the Quay, and Ad Hoc Plots, which featured a series of mini gardens in salvaged and repurposed items.

For 2022, the BIA is looking for activations that will get people outside, foster social connections, make the downtown more fun and inclusive – and are safe and abide by all COVID-19 safety protocols.

Grants can go toward the costs of producing the activation (including materials, artist fees, insurance, marketing, equipment rental, and supplies) but they can’t go toward charitable donations or liquor purchases.

The Downtown New West BIA will also provide promotional support and guidance in acquiring necessary permits from the City of New Westminster for the activations.  Activations must take place before Dec. 1, 2022.

For more information or to apply for the public space activation program, go to www.downtownnewwest.ca.

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