From The California Downtown Association Member Newsletter
By Steven Welliver, CDA Board Chair
The Downtown Association of Santa Cruz will host the Downtown Santa Cruz Pre-Am Mini Golf / Art Festival from Friday, February 23 through Sunday, February 25. The association invites attendees to “putter around” downtown on a miniature golf course with each hole designed by a local artist, engineer, architect or community group. We asked Executive Director Chip to tell us more.
Steven: What was the inspiration behind a pop-up, art driven miniature golf course?
Chip: There were a lot of different factors that inspired the event. We have a very rich creative community and we were excited to see what different artists, engineers, architects and others would do with the challenge of creating a temporary installation that functioned as a mini golf hole. It also checks all of the boxes for us, in terms of our goals as an organization: It’s family friendly, which is a big focus for us right now. It drives traffic, not only to Downtown, but into stores, where the holes are located and gives us an opportunity to showcase some of the new stores in the district. It also works out that February is a slower retail time, so the stores are able to afford the space,
Steven: How will the golf tournament differ from past Downtown Santa Cruz events?
Chip: We made a decision a few years ago, based on feedback from our members to move away from big footprint events that close streets and alter normal traffic. We have had a bit of success with our First Friday Art Tour and Wine Walk events and others that bring people into stores. This expands that format over a long weekend. We also have ended up doing a lot of wine and now beer events, which is great from a revenue perspective, but excludes the under 21 crowd, which is of course an important demographic for Downtown.
Steven: How will you judge whether the event was successful?
Chip: That is a really good question. I have made an effort with this to talk about this year as a sort of prototype for what the event could be in future years. In other words, there is a lot of trying to explain the concept and the details and convince people to get on board – artists, host locations, participants everyone. I actually only was able to convince 8 designers to take this on this year, which means that I’m the 9th. But the interest for next year is very high. In short, the event will be successful in my mind if we get some good pictures and generate enough of a buzz to build on it next year. I imagine the hole designers will want to out do themselves, and the audience will grow. I think my Board will only really consider it successful if Bill Murray or Steph Curry come to golf in Santa Cruz. I’m working on both fronts.