Ann Arbor mayor proposes stipend program to encourage more street performances
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"I was in Montreal a few years ago and saw a street performance," he said. "My wife and I were there and we were really interested in it. It was actually Shakespeare."
That was until they talked to the performers who responded, "Well, we're not totally spontaneous — we get a stipend for doing this and the city makes arrangements."
"We thought that was wonderful because things like that were happening all over Montreal," Hieftje said.
Then just few weeks ago during a trip to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, Hieftje said he walked over to Sculpture Plaza at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Catherine Street.
"There were some excellent student musicians from the University of Michigan music school playing," he said. "It gathered a crowd. It was just kind of a little buzz there. Everybody was enjoying it."
Hieftje said that got him thinking again: What if there was a way to encourage more street performances of various kinds around Ann Arbor?
"I'm wondering if we can't come up with a program to offer a stipend for that type of activity," he said. "It will certainly appear to people as if it's spontaneous, and it will be nearly spontaneous and still allow them to put the hat out."
Hieftje tossed out the idea at Wednesday's meeting of the Downtown Development Authority. The DDA's Partnerships Committee is now planning to discuss it at a future meeting.
"I think you're talking a $2,000 to $3,000 program a year — just to offer them a little incentive," Hieftje said. "I've been thinking about it for a while and I think it's something we can put together pretty easily and it would enliven us. We have an incredibly lively downtown and it would just add to it."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.