Get ready for more buskers in downtown, thanks to $5,000 City Hall grant

Mariel Reynolds, of Kansas City, Mo., hangs upside down, suspended above New Hampshire St. in front of the Lawrence Arts Center, as she performs with the aerial performance group Voler - Thieves of Flight while spectators watch as part of the annual Lawrence Busker Festival, Sunday, May 31, 2015.

Street performers will soon become a regular sight in downtown Lawrence.

A local project to bring more street performances downtown is one of four projects to get a boost from the city’s Community Arts Grant Competition. The project’s goal is to consistently bring quality street performers downtown as part of Final Fridays — in which downtown businesses host visual or performing arts on the last Friday of the month.

“The main idea is to create a little more excitement on the streets during Final Fridays,” said Richard Renner, director of the annual Lawrence Busker Festival and project organizer.

The Buskers for Final Fridays project will partner with performers, Busker Festivals Inc., Downtown Lawrence Inc., and Explore Lawrence to bring buskers downtown for Final Fridays. From June through October, a committee will select three acts to perform each month. Performers will be provided a particular block on Massachusetts Street and a $250 stipend and will be allowed to collect tips.

Renner said examples of street performers who would be a good fit for Final Fridays include juggler, unicyclist and fire manipulator Jason D’Vaude; circus sideshow performer Martika Daniels; and local band Zydeco Tougeau (known for its washboard playing). He said he also plans to work with local circus school The Last Carnival to include its performers.

“It goes along also with the mission of the Busker Festival, which is to promote Lawrence as a street-performing town — as a place where street performers can come and be accepted and do well,” Renner said.

Three other events were awarded a grant as part of Community Arts Grant Competition: a Haskell Indian Nations University history event, an African-American quilt exhibit and a creativity festival hosted by the Lawrence school district. As part of the grant program, now in its 23rd year, the four organizations will receive a total of $25,000 for their projects.

The city’s Cultural Arts Commission selects the recipients of the grants, and the City Commission approved the recipients as part of its meeting this week. Below is a summary of the winning projects, collected from each project’s grant request.

• Haskell Cultural Center and Museum, $8,000: Indigenous dance and educational workshops will celebrate the 90th Anniversary of the Haskell Stadium and arch dedication.

• Spencer Museum of Art, $7,000: The museum will host the nationally touring exhibition “And Still We Rise: Race, Culture, and Visual Conversations.” The exhibit will include 400 years of African-American history told through story quilts.

• Buskers for Final Fridays project, $5,000: The project will consistently bring quality street performers to downtown Lawrence as part of Final Fridays.

• Confabularryum, $5,000: Annual event encouraging creativity and innovation in education. Last year, more than 7,500 people attended the free event, which includes activities and presentations for students on topics such as robotics, 3-D printing and coding.

Grant funds provide money for events or projects that encourage the arts in Lawrence. Since the Community Arts Grant program began, the city’s arts commission has awarded grants totaling about $150,000 to 160 organizations and artists.