Punjabi Market launches fundraiser to create large-scale murals

May 18 2021, 9:23 am

The Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective (PMRC) has launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring new public art to the historic neighbourhood.

Murals in the Market is a partnership between PMRC and Vancouver Mural Fest (VMF), and the initiative aims to boost BIPOC artists as well as bring visitors back to the commercial district.

“Public art at this level has never gone up in Punjabi Market throughout its history and we want to draw folks back to the market,” said Jag Nagra, Creative Director of PMRC in an interview with Daily Hive Urbanized.

“It’s a great way to remind them that Punjabi Market is still here and highlight the historical context of the neighbourhood. Especially during the pandemic, many of the local businesses as suffered as a result of the restrictions, so we want to bring much-needed foot traffic back here.”

From left to right: PMRC Board Members Navi Rai, Gulzar Nanda, Amber Mann, Pall Beesla and Jag Nagra during the installation of their public art installation “Marigolds in the Market” located at Main and 51st in Punjabi Market. (Submitted)

Punjabi Market on Main Street between 48th and 51st Avenues was the first and largest South Asian Market in North America. It was home to the first Punjabi-language street signs outside of Asia and was home to over 300 shops at its Peak. Punjabi Market celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020 and remains an important community hub.

The PMRC is a registered non-profit organization made up of community advocates, entrepreneurs and artists. Their goal is to revitalize Punjabi Market through an arts and cultural lens, including projects like Murals in the Market.

“Public art is also a great way to bring attention to a neighbourhood that hasn’t received much capital investment in so long,” explained Nagra.

“Punjabi Market meant so much to so many people for so long. People from all over would come to Vancouver to do their shopping here.  And unfortunately, over time, it’s become somewhat forgotten at least compared to how it once was in the ’80s and 90s.”

Money raised in Murals in the Market GoFundMe campaign will go towards artist fees, supplies and programming. As of writing this article, over $300 has been raised of their $10,000 goal.

“We have a big goal for funding this year and we want to include and engage the wonderful community around Punjabi Market,” said Nagra.

“We have a lot of supporters and we thought it would be a great way to involve folks in this historical moment in time. Murals not only help beautify spaces but there’s a lot of economic benefits that come with them as well.”

Murals in the Market will be created in collaboration with local BIPOC artists and painted in August 2021. The PMRC will be working with a guest curator who will be marking artist selections.

“We want to help amplify underrepresented BIPOC artists and help facilitate storytelling along with discussions on racism and discrimination,” explained Nagra.”Vancouver Mural Festival has been a huge support to us and has provided a lot of guidance to our team. We’re so grateful to have them in our corner.”

“Over the last five years, VMF has put up over 200 murals in Vancouver, and we’re thrilled to be working with them this year. They have so much expertise and experience and they’re been instrumental in helping us through this entire process.”

Nagra said that PMRC hopes that the new murals will not only entice people familiar with the market to come back for a visit but also introduce the neighbourhood to first-timers.

“There’s so much history in Punjabi Market and we want to help amplify that,” said Nagra. “We hope this is only the beginning and that each year we’ll be able to add more murals and public art.  There are so many independent businesses here who are doing amazing work and we hope by bringing foot traffic here, they’ll benefit as well.”

Daniel ChaiDaniel Chai

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