They draw new visitors to the city, generate sales for downtown merchants and provide entertainment for an active local population.
And each year, downtown special events including multiple annual arts festivals, the Cowboy Gathering, Blue Grass Meltdown and Heritage Celebration run more smoothly and are more successful because of a $40,000 in grants given away by the downtown Business Improvement District, said Bob Kunkel, BIDs executive director.
The BID is comprised of a group of downtown business owners who opt to levy an additional property tax on themselves to ensure residents and visitors will continue to experience a vibrant and entertaining downtown Durango, Kunkel said. The businesses voted last year to renew and increase the tax.
While the money collected from those downtown business owners and other district funding partners, including the city of Durango and the Durango Area Tourism Office, is used for a number of purposes from advertising to research to beautification and long-term infrastructure plans some money is used to create and incubate new events and to help existing events attract more visitors, Kunkel said.
The special events bring new faces to Durango, he said, and because they often come for multiple nights, theyre paying for lodging and meals and gifts while theyre here.
Special events held downtown such as the annual independent film festival, Showcase of the Arts, Durango Arts Festival, Cowboy Gathering and Heritage Festival are among a long list of past years BID grant recipients, he said.
Most recently, the First Night New Years Eve celebration received its first special-events grant from the Business Improvement District. The new event was a success with more than 2,000 people attending despite the days frigid temperatures, said Carol Clark, First Night event planner. Tickets for the event were available only online and many more went to out-of-state residents than locals, Clark said.
Now we know the potential of this event, Clark said, and its worth doing again.
A new annual grant cycle for the Business Improvement District began this month, according to a news release, and grants of $500 to $5,000 are available for marketing new and existing special events downtown.
The $40,000 in grants available is a coffer thats separate from the $24,000 the business district pays for seasonal umbrella marketing programs such as Sprint it On, Fall for Downtown Durango and HOLiDAZZLE, which are intended to stimulate economic activity across the board during certain times of the year, Kunkel said.
The committee doling out the special-events grant money looks for concepts that fit with the communitys interests, will draw visitors from afar during slow travel seasons and will grow to become annual events with noted economic impacts to Durango businesses, Kunkel said.
We try to take the peaks and valleys out of the economic stream with some of these grants, Kunkel said.
The money must be used for marketing outside the local area, BID officials said.
But we dont tell them what they have to buy, Kunkel added, so event planners have used the grants to cover a gamut of things from website development to advertising in trade and hobby magazines.
For Clark, its about bringing people into town so they can stay here, eat here and enjoy what we love.