City of Vancouver supporting artists to paint murals on boarded storefronts

Apr 7 2020, 4:00 pm

The City of Vancouver has expanded its Mural Support Program to help support the creation of new artwork on the temporary wooden hoarding that now covers many storefronts.

Over the last few weeks, with the major drop in customers and closures that are either voluntary or mandated by government, shops, restaurants, and other businesses have been boarding up their storefronts to deter vandalism and property theft.

But these wooden boards also present an opportunity as a blank canvas for murals, which can deter graffiti and other vandalism.

In general practice, over the years, murals on building walls in laneways and other surfaces have been supported to help deter undesirable behaviour, in accordance to Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design Principles.

Moreover, this opportunity for new artwork supports community expression — messages and symbols of appreciation, hope, inspiration, and support — during these challenging times.

Mural on temporary hoarding in Gastown. (Sarah Orsmond)

Area-specific initiatives by the business improvement association (BIA) and Vancouver Mural Festival organizers have also been major drivers for the expansion of new murals in the cityscape every year.

In recent days, a number of Gastown businesses and the Gastown BIA have already been proactive by working with local artists to turn hoarding into works of art.

“Recognizing that health and safety are the main priorities at this time, the Gastown BIA is working with local businesses to supply artists with not only paint, materials, honourariums and food vouchers for local businesses, but also sanitation equipment and items to create a safe perimeter while they work,” said Gastown BIA in a statement.

As of April 3, the municipal government has been providing its own level of support for these creations across the city. It will provide $400 vouchers for paints and supplies at Dulux Paints to applicants for the creation of murals on temporary hoarding.

But it is important to emphasize this is not a free for all; all artists must seek permission from the property owner, tenant, or BIA. As well, businesses and BIAs are urged to provide fees to artists, which in turn helps support them during these difficult economic conditions.

The murals must be completed within two to three days, and artists are required to work individually and follow the recommendations of local health authorities.

For more information, including how to apply, visit the City of Vancouver’s website.

While the city and BIAs are encouraging new murals, the public is being asked to enjoy the new art online through photos instead of seeing these works in person.

With significantly less foot and vehicle traffic in the streets for natural surveillance, BIAs within the downtown Vancouver peninsula have also ramped up their contracted private security levels to deter vandalism and property theft, especially during the overnight hours.

Mural on temporary hoarding in Gastown. (David Austin)