MEDC, partners launch crowdfunding campaign for After Dark Grand Rapids

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This year, Lions & Rabbits is raising money for After Dark to create more than 35 murals, created by ZIP code-specific artists that will be installed across five neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. Courtesy Leandro Lara

Grand Rapids is undergoing a creative, community-driven placemaking project through a new crowdfunding campaign.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, West Grand Neighborhood Organization and nonprofit Lions and Rabbits announced a campaign offered through the Michigan-based crowdfunding platform Patronicity.

Last year, Lions and Rabbits threw a Creston. After Dark. fundraising party for the Creston corridor with over 2,000 community attendees, eight local muralists, and multiple businesses and artisans participating.

This year, Lions & Rabbits is raising money for After Dark to create more than 35 murals, created by ZIP code-specific artists that will be installed across five neighborhoods in Grand Rapids. It also will allow for the creation of a physical “GR Life” board game featuring influential Grand Rapids leaders and historical landmarks that will be available to purchase and is family-friendly.

If the campaign reaches its crowdfunding goal of $44,000 by Sept. 27, the project will win a matching grant with funds made possible by MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program. For project details and to donate, visit patronicity.com/afterdarkgr.

“These kinds of creative adaptations for community engagement in light of the pandemic are paving the way for new kinds of placemaking,” said MEDC Senior Vice President of Community Development Michele Wildman. “We are pleased to bring this program to life and provide resources for this effort through our Public Spaces Community Places program.”

There will be 50 interactive sites created at local businesses and landmarks — open to the community — through a digital version of the “GR Life” game.

Due to COVID-19 precautions, instead of having six one-day parties, the partners created a multi-monthlong art walk and interactive board game that the community can easily and safely participate in, filled with free raffle prizes and ways to connect with and support the city.

“After Dark GR is created by the community, for the community, with the community,” said Hannah Berry, executive director of Lions and Rabbits. “We are intentionally impacting the community for years to come through art and interactive play. This interactive arts programming creates equity for our local artists as we share this platform with each other. This is about taking pride in our neighborhoods as we showcase the abilities of the artists living, working and advocating among us.”

Public Spaces Community Places is a collaborative effort of the MEDC, the Michigan Municipal League and Patronicity, where residents can use crowdfunding to be part of the development of community projects and be backed with a matching grant from MEDC.

Communities, nonprofits and other business entities can apply at patronicity.com/puremichigan.

The initiative started in 2014 with MEDC providing matched funding of up to $50,000 for community improvement projects throughout Michigan. As of Aug. 24, MEDC has provided more than $7.6 million in matching grants. Since the launch of the program, 248 projects have been successful in reaching their goal with $8.9 million raised from 44,716 individual donors.

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