A group of local businesses, nonprofits, city officials, and volunteers are banding together under the banner of "PROVA" with the goal of bringing an outdoor beer garden with multicultural food and entertainment to a flattened, vacant downtown Brockton property. PROVA plans to establish an outdoor beer garden with craft beer, food and live entertainment on the former Kresge department store site, with operating hours from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, along with a few selected Saturdays, throughout the summer season.
BROCKTON – Imagine a beer garden with shared tables in downtown Brockton, with local restaurants supplying food from nearby tents or trucks, providing entertainment and camaraderie in the center of the city.
This is the vision of a new group in Brockton named "PROVA," made up of businesses, local nonprofits, city officials, and volunteers. "Prova" means "proof" in Cape Verdean Creole. And the aim of the group is to offer proof that downtown Brockton can be a profitable place for businesses and can be an enjoyable destination for food, drinks and entertainment.
"Our mission is to prove that Brockton can come together as one community and have fun doing it, while also demonstrating the potential that exists for businesses to be successful in our downtown," said PROVA, in a statement released through Facebook on Tuesday.
PROVA plans to establish an outdoor beer garden with craft beer, food and live entertainment on the now-flattened, vacant former Kresge department store site, which is currently owned by NeighborWorks and is slated for a residential development project. The goal is to open the beer garden sometime this summer, with operating hours from 4 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, along with a few selected Saturdays, throughout the summer season.
The group is working with Shovel Town Brewery in Easton on the initiative, along with other organizations like the state agency MassDevelopment, the Brockton Redevelopment Authority, Brockton 21st Century Corporation, NeighborWorks, the Fuller Craft Museum, the city of Brockton, and a local youth program called Sabura.
"It is a food and entertainment pop-up, or event, trying to prove that there's a market for downtown restaurants, that we can keep people after work, and attract people on their way home from work," said Rob May, director of planning and economic development for the city of Brockton. "In the first go around, it is to have local restaurants featured inside with food tents because we want to show off what we have. If we can't generate enough local restaurants that are interested, we'd turn to food trucks. We hope the local restaurants are going to be excited about this."
However, the initiative is still in its infancy, and the group is raising money with an online crowdfunding campaign that it plans to launch on Thursday. The group said in a flyer that funds would be matched by MassDevelopment. The goal is to raise $50,000 by June 15, according to the group, which is also seeking sponsorships that come with special benefits. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A spokesperson for MassDevelopment declined to comment on Tuesday, telling The Enterprise that the project has not formally launched yet.
On Monday this week, PROVA held a community input meeting about the initiative at the Brockton Public Library.
"Everyone had ideas that we posted on the wall about what kind of food would you like and what particular country it's from, and what type of music they would like," said Janet Trask, a community volunteer and member of the Brockton Diversity Commission. "They are going through all these things and come up with the most popular ideas."
Trask said she thought it was a hopeful concept to try to uplift downtown Brockton, but there is also a sense of caution among the community members who came to the event at the library.
"It just seems like a great multicultural venue for the city's downtown, with diversity, food, various ethnic food, and, from what I understand, there will be music from a multicultural aspect, too, and maybe dancing," Trask said. "It's just to celebrate the great diversity of Brockton, the coming together of cultures, and to create a better understanding of one another. ... It's exciting. It's very exciting for downtown Brockton. We are all enthused, but cautious. Downtown has not been an easy area to attract folks. But we want to see that change."