About 40 small businesses in Lockport were negatively impact by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But approximately 20 corporate sponsors took 20 of these small businesses under their wings in a special “Keep Our Small Business Afloat” program, which raised about $60,000 and will produce 20 customized ducks.
Wendy Streit, chair of Lockport’s summer art series, said she and other committee members had looked for fun, creative ways to help small businesses and put local artists to work at the same time, she said.
“And this is where we landed,” Streit said.
These 36-inch ducks, which cost the sponsors $3,000 each, will feature custom designs that each business and its sponsor will choose. Artists chosen by the Illinois State Museum in Lockport will apply the concepts to create the designs for the ducks.
“We’re calling it ‘fun fine art,’” Streit said.
Legacy 3D in Bolingbrook, which created the Lockport steampunk statues, will then create the ducks, she said. The ducks should be completed by April 1. Then the ducks will be placed around Lockport by the end of April, she added.
Positioning the ducks around the city prevents having all the “ducks lined up in a row,” she said.
“They’re making the ducks in such a way that you can sit on them,” Streit said. “I know that, a lot of times, people are not able to touch the art and interact with it. So that’s a bonus.”
A plaque near the duck will have a QR code that will include information about the businesses and special offers or coupons to encourage people to visit the business, Streit said. Each time people visit a business, they can collect a rubber duck for a total of 20 rubber ducks in all, she added.
“We used to have a duck race every year at Old Canal Days,” Streit said.
Streit said it’s not yet been determined if the traditional duck race, or even Old Canal Days, will take place this year. But who doesn’t love a rubber duck, she added. At least for now, the custom ducks and the rubber ducks give people something fun to anticipate, she feels.
“Everyone was devastated by the fact everything last year was canceled, so everyone was in the same boat,” Streit said. “So we wanted to be sure that anything we did would be something that everyone could still experience, even if we were not completely free to roam around. Since the ducks would be outside, it would encourage people to admire them and learn about our businesses…it’s nice to make art that’s accessible.”
Streit said the “Keep Our Small Business Afloat” program, with its resulting ducks, is also a reminder how something good can come from a challenging situation.
“And I think it’s really important that we don’t lose sight of the arts and what an impact the make on a city,” Streit said. “And how they impact a community.