In an effort to attract and support the creation of more live events in Downtown Long Beach, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance has re-launched its community events microgrant program, which is open to individuals, groups, businesses, neighborhood associations and nonprofits who wish to hold events in Downtown.
The program, which DLBA is offering for the first time since 2012, includes a new-and-improved application process after meeting with the Arts Council for Long Beach to gain some insights into their grant methods as well as studying the sponsorship process at the Port of Long Beach.
“We just wanted to make (the application) more transparent and standardize the process for people that regularly ask us for sponsorships as well as letting people know that this is something that we offer,” said Justine Nevarez, DLBA’s Community Outreach & Events Manager.
A major goal for the DLBA has been to place more of a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, and the new application supports this effort, Nevarez said.
“(We’re) hoping to help represent the diversity of Downtown and showcase that we are a super diverse city but also just Downtown, and bring the community together, bring visitors to town,” Nevarez said.
Over the years, the DLBA has sponsored numerous events, but the organization realized that there wasn’t a clear way for neighborhood associations, community organizations and groups to ask for funding, explained DLBA president and CEO Austin Metoyer.
The new process “also allows for more equitable disbursement of funds across Downtown, and not just having them in some of the main areas that you would normally think of,” Metoyer said.
Potential events could include summer activities, music, or various cultural celebrations.
“We’re looking for really any kind of out-of-the-box events that would be more diverse than what we’ve been sponsoring,” Nevarez said.
The grants, which will range from $250 to $1,000, are ideal particularly for smaller or newer events that groups are hoping to introduce to the area, while potentially supporting local small businesses, and bringing “a little bit more lively energy to Downtown,” Nevarez said.
A total of $8,000 is available for the program.
“If a neighborhood or a community wants to do a block party or if the East Village wants to do a sustainability market, or the Gray Panthers wants to do a senior night out, this is an opportunity for those funds to be used for something like that,” Metoyer said.
There are plenty of parks that would be great places for activation, such as Gumbiner, Lincoln or Cesar Chavez, Metoyer said.
“We really envision the community groups utilizing this program to bring music, food, any type of activities to those spaces,” he said.
The deadline to submit proposals is May 14, and grant recipients will be announced on June 5.
Proposals must be for events between June 6 to Sept. 30.
All funding proposals must be supported by at least one Downtown representative such as a city or elected official, a ratepayer or someone with an active Downtown business license. Additionally, all DLBA-sponsored events must be accessible and open to the public to receive funding.
To Metoyer, the community event microgrant program is an essential piece of Long Beach and Downtown’s recovery from the pandemic—and it will hopefully allow residents and business owners to connect with one another and re-engage with community members, he said.
“I think it’s part of the process of DLBA rethinking our role in events,” Metoyer said.
While this initial grant program is for summer events specifically, depending on the success of the program and how much demand there is, Metoyer said he would love to see an additional grant cycle for fall or spring activations.
“The hope is that the program does grow, that we do get a lot of folks who are interested in utilizing that to help bring a little bit of vibrancy and joy to their neighborhoods and to their communities, and people realize it’s a resource,” Metoyer said.