The Business Improvement District Committee is looking to pack the Plaza with programming this summer.
“At our last meeting we talked about looking for additional funds to beef up the programming with entertainment,” said Chairperson Kelli Trumble at the BID meeting March 7.
She said the committee has $22,000 budgeted, which Jenifer Dobbs, Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau Festivals Manager, has mapped out with acts on an entertainment calendar.
Dobbs requested an additional $6,000 for the current schedule she has set.
Plaza programming kicks off the weekend of the Automotion Festival, which is covered by Wisconsin Dells Festivals, she said.
In May, there will also be entertainment Memorial Day weekend. For the first three weekends in June, programming will be on Fridays and Saturdays. June 17 will start the first full week of nightly entertainment, which continues through Labor Day weekend. Then, programming becomes more irregular. Dobbs said nightly entertainment will run between 7 and 10 p.m.
Trumble said the entertainment budget for the Plaza last year was around $50,000, which came from sponsors and donors the River Arts Committee had and $22,000 from BID.
“Those dollars are not available in 2018,” she said.
With $22,000, programming will be similar to 2016, she said.
Phil Helley suggested bringing in artisans like wood carvers.
“I think artisans are a great idea in addition to the entertainment we have,” Trumble said.
Committee member Mark Sweet said they could see if Logan Marvel from Mr. Marvel’s Wondertorium would be available.
“It would be a good way to promote him out there,” he said.
Helley brought up the idea of having Timbavati bring animals to the Plaza.
“Everyone loves animals,” he said.
Tara Anchor asked if the committee would consider having someone do something for-profit, like a face painter.
Dobbs said they’re looking into art-related activities.
“I think we just have to figure out ways to use it,” said Jesse DeFosse, alderperson and committee member.
“The current schedule is taking care of nights, but we have so much pedestrian traffic and drive-through traffic during the day,” Trumble said.
“I’d like to see something going on all the time,” Dobbs said.
“I don’t think we need to overdo it and have $300 and $400 bands during the day,” DeFosse said. “I don’t think we have to go bonkers, we just need to be scheduled and busy.”
Trumble asked if the committee thinks $10,000 could be raised instead of $6,000, with the extra $4,000 going towards morning and afternoon programming.
Dobbs said she’d like to see a fundraiser happen, which committee member Justin Draper suggested at the last BID meeting.
Committee member Kyler Royston asked if phone calls could be made first to try and get additional funding.
Committee member Dan Gavinski said he’d rather have them start there, too.
Sweet said he briefly discussed the funding shortfall with the Downtown Dells Committee, which he is in charge of, and will put it on the agenda for their next meeting.
Trumble said BID has a winter festival line item and a new project surplus on their 2018 budget. She asked if the committee wanted to take anything out of those two line items or make the commitment, then raise the $6,000 outside of the meeting.
DeFosse motioned to give Dobbs the $6,000 so she can book what she has on the current calendar.
“I think we give her the money to go forward and get done with it,” he said.
The committee approved the motion to support the $6,000 additional budget needed for the nighttime entertainment at the Duchess Plaza this year.
“As far as how that’s going to be funded, we want to see if we can raise it outside of the BID budget first,” Trumble said.
Since the Duchess Plaza is staying where it’s at for the summer, the committee is brainstorming location options for the future.
Trumble said the Trumble family trust is selling property on the corner of Cedar Street and Broadway.
“My family, those who are in charge of the trust, have said if the city is interested in that as a public plaza area, to have a discussion with them about that,” she said.
Adam Makowski suggested the corner of Illinois Ave. and River Road. He said it’s located right on the River Walk and is blocks away from the downtown strip.
“As I dig further into all of this and talk to more and more people, it’s almost a given location for something like that,” he said.
He said if things fall into place, opportunity could be there.
Chris Tollaksen, planning and zoning administrator, mentioned that during a city council meeting, Eric Helland of Riverview Boat Line said their plaza by the bridge is available.