RC Poetry Festival and Artwalk a semifinalist for $5K microgrant

ROGERS CITY — Rogers City is proud to be a semifinalist for a Michigan Municipal League Main Street microgrant to help activate downtown spaces with art and poetry.

The public can help them get closer to their goal of receiving a $5,000 microgrant by voting online daily here: mmlfoundation.org/bridge-builders-mainstreet-voting/art-has-power/ #BridgeBuilders. You are allowed one vote per 24 hours.

The Spring Art Walk will be held Friday, June 9 in Rogers City.

Art has Power Poetry Festival and Art Walk, planned for this fall, will activate the empty business spaces in the Rogers City downtown area with art and poetry. Installations will cover the empty windows and traveling poetry will lead people from one end of Third Street to the other. Partners are the Presque Isle District Library and the Stone House Studio.

“I’m on the Design Committee of the Rogers City Main Street Program, and one of the things that we’ve been talking about is activating some of these unused spaces in downtown,” said Katy Carignan, project coordinator. “I’ve been participating in the Art Walk for the past couple of years, and one of the things we’ve noticed is that these unused spaces can really be sort of a drag on it. People are all excited in the spots that we’re really busy, but then you end up in these empty places, and there’s nothing to look at.”

She said that’s where this idea came from.

“We wanted to activate those spaces with art and poetry,” Carignan noted. “We’re collaborating with a local business, which is Cory Budnick State Farm, she’s the business sponsor of the project. And then, we have an artist, Garrison Benson, he’s our poet that is the lead artist on the project.”

“What the Main Street grant is supposed to do is it’s supposed to be something that helps drive engagement in your community,” Carignan said. “There needs to be a social component, there needs to be an activity component, and it’s really helping your Main Street downtown area.”

In the proposal, Carignan stated, “Our community has a long history of arts and culture. Beginning in the early 1900s, this community has had movie theaters that showed film and vaudeville performances. Many artists have made this area their home from writers to visual artists, to performing artists and filmmakers.

“Poetry is a medium that brings those arts together,” she continued. “A poetry slam is a performing art. A poem and image can be made more powerful by pairing them together. And poetry has a unique way of crossing generational and cultural boundaries in a community.

“As a northern town with snowy winters, we have a large population of readers, and our love of books and culture brings our town together. In addition, we are lucky to have an active group of amateur photographers who post on Facebook, in ‘I Love Rogers City.’ We want to leverage that population of artist posters and followers to find and select the art that we will pair with poetry to fill these empty spaces.

“We also want to create smaller poetry signs that can be placed one after the other through the downtown as ‘traveling poetry.’ For our art walk in the fall, the activation of these storefronts, and the signs of traveling poetry will provide intrigue and lead attendees to the next location, from one end of main street to the other.”

Carignan added that if they make it to through to the final round, “they take into account the voting, then there’s also a panel to help pick who gets it.”

Rogers City is currently one of 10 semifinalists.

Voting is open through June 12.


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