By Joshua Heineman/For Seaside Signal
The application window for the annual tourism grant program in Seaside is now open.
I encourage anyone working on a project, program, or event that results in visitation and overnight stays in Seaside to apply for up to $5,000 in grant funding. For this year’s cycle, the deadline to apply is May 10.
The city of Seaside Visitors Bureau in collaboration with the Tourism Advisory Committee will review applications at our May meeting and make award recommendations. Applicants will be notified of their status shortly thereafter.
I’m particularly excited about this long-running program because it allows a portion of our advertising budget to directly support community-driven events and initiatives, and diversify the very attractions that bring new people to Seaside in the first place.
As far as grants go, the application requirements for this one are relatively straightforward. The biggest obstacle I see is simply getting the word out so dreamers, doers, planners, and project managers know this seed money is available to get fledgling ideas off the ground, spur further partnerships, or expand on existing offerings.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that there will be a strong preference given to shoulder- and off-season funding applications. Anything falling between mid-June and early September on the calendar, if awarded, will be capped at $3,000 in maximum funding. We all agree that spreading visitation throughout the year is preferable.
Last year’s grant recipients included the Times Theatre & Public House, Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District, Tsunami Skippers Jump Rope Team, and the Seaside Chamber of Commerce for that fantastic firework show you might have heard about once or twice.
Full guidelines and application materials can be found at seasideOR.com/industry or by contacting the Visitors Bureau via email, phone, or in-person (we’ll print you copies like it’s 1999).
Mayor Jay Barber gave a great summation of the City Council’s current two- and four-year goals at a recent Seaside Downtown Development Association meeting. From economy to infrastructure and from operations to quality of life, it’s nice to see which direction city leaders are trying to move the needle.
In that spirit, I thought it worth sharing the goals that I put forth in December for the Visitors Bureau in the coming year (or two).
Goal No. 1 — Add and align signage onsite at the Visitors Bureau/Chamber of Commerce building to make our services more visible, reflect our current brand, and serve as a midpoint beacon between the north and south welcome signs.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. We absolutely have to update the outdated font on the main Chamber sign to signal drivers familiar with our branding and also rethink the front entryway to the building so it’s more inviting from the street. Already we’ve got some repainting scheduled for the spring and even some ideas on how to bring more of our fair-weather Adirondack chair crowd into the welcome center.
Goal No. 2 — Honor the dance, jazz, and rock music heritage of Seaside in ways that add to the historical legacy of Oregon’s first resort town and open opportunities for future development.
On first blush, this one might seem a little far-fetched, but stick with me. Did you know Duke Ellington played the renowned Bungalow Dance Hall, which existed in the space now occupied by the Carousel Mall? Did you know The Fabulous Wailers of “Doin’ the Seaside” fame staged an impromptu rooftop show near the Turnaround in 1962 to pacify angsty teenagers? Did you know there used to be a fantastical dance hall called the Hippodrome along the banks of the Necanicum in the early 1920s? There’s a deep musical heritage here and I think it’s worth finding ways to bring that history to the surface – whether through historical markers or establishing off-season retreats for musicians — when talking about what Seaside represents to visitors.
Goal No. 3 — Position the Visitors Bureau as a future-forward institution, exploring novel methods and new technologies to better serve visitors to Seaside and the North Coast region.
If you’ve been reading any of my columns in the last six months, you probably know our website – seasideOR.com – is reaching a record audience these days. In 2018, for instance, there were 362,000 unique users on the site compared to “just” 271,000 in 2017. The brick-and-mortar visitor center, while extremely valuable, isn’t seeing that growth. We have audited our website to understand how to optimize for voice-search traffic from the growing Google Home and Amazon Alexa crowd, but that’s only one small step. The possibilities are wide open as far as mediums and potential applications are concerned. The only guarantee is that things will change, and we shouldn’t be afraid to reach people through creative nontraditional and digital means. That’s the future.
Got a tourism-related comment, tip, or project? I’d love to hear about it. Write me at email@example.com.