City of Vancouver Approves $1.5M in Funding for Public Art

Marcus Bowcott's Trans Am Totem, part of the 2014-16 Vancouver Biennale / Image via The Georgia Straight

Marcus Bowcott's Trans Am Totem, part of the 2014-16 Vancouver Biennale / Image via The Georgia Straight

The Council of the City of Vancouver has approved an allocation of $1.5 million in public art funding over two years. 

A 10-page report to Council motioned for a public art boost "to create opportunities for artists and other partners to support Vancouver’s vibrant and world class emerging art scene through events and projects over the next two years." The motion passed late last week at a meeting of the City Council's policy and strategic priorities committee.

Five "Quick Starts" projects were recommended:

  • $200,000 towards the Create Vancouver Society for the 2016 Vancouver Mural Festival, to be held in August (funding matched by the society itself). The event plans to bring some of the best mural artists from Vancouver and around the world to create up to 20 murals on prominent buildings on the Main Street corridor;
  • $45,000 towards a series of artist lighting projects in Jim Deva Plaza, to be held by the Lumiere Festival Society in partnership with the West End Business Improvement Association;
  • $110,000 towards an "Imagination Zone", in partnership with CityStudio innovation studio. The project will create a public space that encourages experiments in creating a healthy and creative city. After a fall pilot, planning is underway for a year-long project in which an Imagination Zone Curator would be brought in to curate and manage public art projects in the zone for a year;
  • $100,000 towards the integration of Musqueam culture, art and design into public realm improvements in South Vancouver;
  • $300,000 towards expanding the Community Public Art grants program ($150,000 in each of the two years 2017 and 2018). The additional budget boost will be combined with existing annual public art capital budget allocation of $90,000 ($45,000 over the next two years) to result in an annual budget of $195,000.

Funding for the five Quick Starts public art projects totals $755,000. A report back in late 2016 will outline the allocation of the additional $745,000 (bringing the overall total to $1.5 million) for new projects for 2017 and 2018. 

The City's public art program has facilitated the creation of more than 300 artworks in the 25 years of its existence.


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