REXBURG — The Center Street Plaza project in Rexburg is about to become a reality as the City of Rexburg received a $50,000 grant from T-Mobile.
As part of T-Mobile’s $25 million Hometown Grant Program, the donation will help fund a stage at the back of the romantic theatre. In the process, this project will continue to develop The Romance as the beating heart of cultural arts in Rexburg.
“(T-Mobile) gave hometown grants to 25 different cities for different projects that would improve the community,” Rexburg Cultural Arts Director Jed Platt told EastIdahoNews.com. “We wrote our grant for our Center Street Plaza as a gathering place and in their comments, (T-Mobile) said it was the best written grant.”
The Hometown Grant program is open to towns with populations under 50,000 and with a vision for projects that strengthen their communities. The program began in April 2021 and has so far distributed more than $3.3 million to small towns in 35 states, with plans to continue giving grants to 25 towns each quarter through 2026.
Platt said Rexburg Arts will use the money to build one of eastern Idaho’s most unique performance venues: a vertical stage.
“The Romance is the hub of cultural arts here in Rexburg, so we have sought to create and expand what we offer here,” Platt said. “With this space, we have a large white wall. The building is a historic building, so we can’t make many changes to it. Due to the alley access, we cannot go out. So instead of a deep step, we’re going up. There will be landings and stairwells leading to other levels, so we can really create dynamic programming.
“It expands our ability to program, to do a bit on the outside,” he added. “It will be a stage all year round. In the summer we will have street concerts and in the winter when we light up our Christmas tree in the square we will also have choirs and things like that as programming.
The simple concept of a vertical stage is already attracting local artists.
“We’ve had a few bands before that we’ve talked about and said, ‘We just want to come and play against the wall because it’s so cool to do it that way and the challenge of it,'” Platt said. .
Platt also said the renovations to The Romance are just a small part of what the city wants to do to develop the Center Street neighborhood.
“The city has a lot of plans for Center Street,” he said. “You will see a lot of changes in the years to come. We want people to know they are welcome downtown and that (Center Street) is a gathering place.
Platt thanked T-Mobile for helping to allow Rexburg Arts to move forward with the stage project and said he hopes to start the project later this year so the stage will be usable by now. Christmas.