Making Peterborough the mural capital of Ontario

City of Peterborough and DBIA seeking downtown sites where public art can be installed

The City of Peterborough's Public Art Program and the Downtown Business Improvement Area want to bring public art to downtown Peterborough, similar to this mural by Kirsten McCrea under the Hunter Street Bridge funded by the Public Art Program (photo courtesy of Artspace)
The City of Peterborough's Public Art Program and the Downtown Business Improvement Area want to bring public art to downtown Peterborough, similar to this mural by Kirsten McCrea under the Hunter Street Bridge funded by the Public Art Program (photo courtesy of Artspace)

The City of Peterborough and the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) want to bring public art to downtown Peterborough. They’ve invited downtown property owners to offer locations where artworks can be installed.

The deadline for submissions is Friday, January 29th, 2016. The submissions and potential sites will be assessed during February, with the results announced at the end of the month. The initial public art project would be unveiled in the fall of 2016.

Downtown property owners who are selected to participate in the project will enter into an agreement with the City to allow the artwork to remain on their property for at least four years. The City of Peterborough would select the artists and assume financial responsibility to install and maintain the artwork for the duration of the agreement.

This will prevent situations where property owners decide to remove or cover up public artworks, as happened with a mural by the late Peterborough artist Chris MacGee being covered over in October 2015.

“This is a prime example of why we need to find the legal wording to protect the art for a period of years,” said Terry Guiel, DBIA Executive, upon learning of that situation.

Property owners participating in the public art project will sign an agreement to allow the artwork to remain for a specified period of time, ensuring artwork is not covered as was the case last October with this Chris Magee mural (photo: Alex Bierk)
Property owners participating in the public art project will sign an agreement to allow the artwork to remain for a specified period of time, ensuring artwork is not covered as was the case last October with this Chris Magee mural (photo: Alex Bierk)

At the time, Guiel also said the DBIA has pushed the mural project and wants to make Peterborough “the capital of murals in Ontario.”

The City of Peterborough’s Public Art Program, established as part of the 2012 municipal culture plan, has a goal to create culturally enriched public spaces that foster a sense of place and an emotional attachment to Peterborough’s urban environment.

Public Art Coordinator Wendy Trusler says the City will assess each proposed location for suitability for public art.

“We’ll be looking at the impact, visibility, suitability of the surface, and engineering requirements,” Trusler explains in an interview with CHEX Newswatch. “Obviously we’re not going to do a mural on a building that’s just crumbling down or we wouldn’t put a mural on a building that was going to be covered up by a new building.”

The submissions will be reviewed by a selection committee of five members with interests or expertise in contemporary art, architecture, design, building construction, history, or cultural tourism. Once sites have been selected, the City will put out a call to both emerging and established artists working in a range of disciplines and media who wish to participate in the project.

Trusler explains that the artwork could take different forms, including paintings and photographs, could be installed on walls or on surfaces other than walls, and could be large or small installations.

“We’re looking at a variety of sizes with the hope they will inspire creative responses from artists,” she says. “They could be for large walls or they could be something that would surprise or delight someone — because it’s small and it’s in a hidden area.”

Interested downtown Peterborough property owners should submit a letter to Trusler at wendy@wendytrusler.ca by 4 p.m. on Friday, January 29th, 2016. They should include the dimensions of the proposed site — including walls and surfaces — as well as photographs of the site, the surrounding area, and structures immediately adjacent to the site.

For more information, visit www.peterboroughbia.com/news/wall-call-all.

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