HOLLAND — Holland’s Thursday nights just got a lot more entertaining.
For 12 weeks street performers will fill several stages from 5:30-9:30 p.m., presenting their talents for those shopping, eating and walking downtown.
“We know that any time that we have any type of artwork on display, it always brings more people into the area,” said Mimi Fritz, marketing director of the Downtown Holland Principal Shopping District.
“Our hope is to create another evening where the streets of Holland are fairly busy and encourage business,” she said.
Stages will be located in front of the Eighth Street Grille, National City, Teerman’s, JP’s Coffee and Espresso Bar, R.I.T. Music and the Holland Area Arts Council. The performances will take place for two hours each, the first from 5:30-7:30 p.m. and the second from 7:30-9:30 p.m. The series began June 23 and will run through Sept. 8.
The program follows the February approval of a street performance ordinance that allows public performance with a license.
“The ordinance allows those people to be down here and perform and be able to (accept tips and donations) while performing,” said Jill Raywood, assistant to the director of the Downtown Development Authority and Principal Shopping District.
Raywood said the ordinance was brought before the city on the behalf of the merchants.
“The merchants were asking for more vibrancy and activity on the streets to be allowed,” she said.
Since the ordinance, at least 37 licenses have been issued, Raywood said. Forms are available at www.cityofholland.com for the $10 licenses.
“It’s something they have to display while performing,” Raywood said.
The ordinance allows performances at seven locations and for two-hour blocks if another performer is waiting, seven days a week between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Fritz said a variety of performers have been chosen, from puppeteers and yo-yo artists to musicians of many kinds.
There will be between 10 and 12 performances a night and performers will rotate locations and times throughout the summer.
“It’s a nice thing to do at no cost on a Thursday night,” she said.
Performances take place on the sidewalks and will not disrupt traffic, Fritz said.
“It’s really cool to watch and I think people are really going to like to see a variety of things,” she said. “I think this is a really exciting move for downtown Holland and it’s falling directly in line with our strategic plan of making downtown Holland a fun and exciting place.”
Bob Schulze, owner of Globe Design and Vision, 49 E. Eighth St., said he thinks the series will put Holland on par with Boulder, Colo., where street performing is common.
“It’s a unique little setup we have here with the shops and the restaurants and I think entertainment goes hand in hand with those things,” he said. “We’ve been ready for this for a while, I believe.”
Schulze said he hopes it will encourage more young people to enjoy what downtown Holland has to offer.
“I think there’s something for all ages,” he said.
Zeeland resident Kimmy Snyder, 18, is one of the several musicians that will be performing downtown during the series. Snyder writes her own songs, sings and plays the guitar. She said she performs a mixture of original and cover songs from bands such as Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional.
“They have very relatable songs and they’re fun to play and sing,” said Snyder, who has been playing the guitar since she was 14 and writing songs since age 15.
Snyder said she is looking forward to the series.
“I love being the center of attention,” she said.
The performance series will give her an opportunity to meet new people and show off her skills, she said.
“I’m sure it’s going to draw a whole bunch of unusual people just to see it,” she said. “It’s going to be a great thing for the city.”
For more information on the event, call (616) 928-0607 or (616) 355-1050.