Either they got more and more interested or they became conscious of the need to look interested. I would expect people, here in Madison, Wisconsin, to be aware of the importance of not looking bored or uncaring when someone comes at you with talk of "inclusiveness" and the "com[ing] together" of "cultures and ethnicities."
The quote comes from Amanda White, a "fundraising consultant" hired by the city's Public Market Development Committee. The city seems to have already allocated $13 million to this project but is trying to figure out how much additional funds it can raise through donations.
This "public market" project has been going on since at least 2012. (It's now projected to open in 2019, but there's still a dispute over whether they've got the right site.) I've never been able to understand it. Here's Progressive Dane's presentation of the idea, which says it's a way to "address racial disparities." Here's the Facebook page for Friends of the Madison Public Market. Here's the City's page on the project, where I found a report analyzing the market as a "Racial Equity & Social Justice Tool." ("Deploying strategies that can make opportunities in the food sector into pathways to a careers [sic] and businesses and transform the food economy a ladder [sic] to the middle class is critical to Madison making progress on racial economic equity.")