Middleville looks to improve downtown amphitheater with terraced seating, public art walk

What’s happening: It’s been about three years since the village of Middleville replaced a dilapidated building with an outdoor amphitheater in the heart of downtown, a new public space that includes public restrooms, green space, and performing arts equipment. The summer of 2021 would see the amphitheater’s first performances, hosting concerts, outdoor movies, and more. Now the Middleville Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is looking to improve on their initial success with the addition of accessibility features and public art installations.

What’s planned: The Middleville DDA plans to build three terraced retaining walls around the amphitheater, replacing a hillside seating area with three levels of flat ground for more accessible seating options. The terraces will be wide enough to host vendors for future makers markets. The DDA also plans to purchase five or six sculptures to install in the surrounding park, creating an Amphitheater Art Walk in downtown Middleville.

Why it’s important: “For the village of Middleville and the surrounding rural community, the downtown amphitheater area functions as our only outdoor performing arts space and is a popular gathering place,” says Katherine Bussard, Village of Middleville DDA Director.

How they’ll do it: The Middleville DDA has been accepted into the state’s Public Spaces Community Places program, a placemaking initiative where the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) offers a matching grant following a project’s successful crowdfunding campaign. In this case, the Middleville DDA has until Saturday, Aug. 20, to crowdfund $25,000 via the Michigan-based Patronicity platform. Should they prove successful, the MEDC will then contribute an additional $25,000 as a matching grant.

What they’re saying: “This opportunity to match local investment with state investment really gives us a dynamic tool to make this place even more vibrant, inspiring, and inviting with meaningful art and improvements to the natural terrain and seating,” Bussard says.