City of Vancouver staff pick winners and losers in applications for Public Art Boost funding

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      The Vancouver Mural Festival appears to have come out ahead in an upcoming allocation of public-art funding.

      A city staff report recommends that more than 40 percent of this year's Public Art Boost funding go to Create Vancouver Society, which puts on the event.

      Boost projects "harness the creativity and commitment of art organizations to increase the number and variety of opportunities for public art expression across the city", according to the staff report.

      It calls for $200,000 of $490,000 in Boost funds be granted to the Vancouver Mural Festival in 2017 and 2018.

      The staff report states that this would finance "artist fees and the creation of up to 80 new murals". The society requested $300,000.

      Council will vote on the staff recommendation on Wednesday (March 29) at the policy and strategic priorities committee.

      The staff's next largest recommendation for Boost funding is $60,000 to the grunt gallery. This would "support planning for a dedicated art screen" on the Independent, which is condo project near the corner of Kingsway and East Broadway. The grunt gallery sought $125,000.

      Another recommendation is for $40,000 for Burrard Arts Foundation to expand the Façade Festival and increase the number of commissioned artists. It requested $60,000.

      If council endorses the staff report, all of these grants would be made, as well as $40,000 to the Or Gallery. This would be for a "series of six temporary interventions by artists exploring material re-use, upcycling, gift economies and the life cycles of objects at a temporary site in downtown Vancouver", according to the report. It asked for $40,450.

      Major players were not so lucky

      Some high-profile organizations are slated to receive significantly less money.

      The Capture Photography Festival requested $75,000 to expand its 2018 program with storefront window displays by emerging artists, who would be supported by business improvement associations. The festival would like to add more billboards and also commission an interactive work by artist Jeff Hamada.

      The staff report, however, only recommends a $30,000 Boost grant for Capture, which has established itself in just four years as one of the city's leading celebrations of public art.

      Vancouver photographer Adad Hannah's An Arrangement (Polka Dot Case Study) was outside Vancouver City Centre Station during last year's Capture Photography Festival.
      Adad Hannah

      The Lumière Festival Vancouver Society hoped to obtain $115,000 to hire a public art curator and commission an event in December 2017. City staff only recommended $30,000 under the Boost program.

      The same amount is recommended for the Vancouver Art Gallery. It requested $40,000 for a new commission by Hong Kong artist Tsang Kin-Wah on the gallery's Howe Street façade, which is a high-profile location in the downtown core.

      Among those shut out in the recommendations is the eco-friendly Vines Arts Festival Society. It sought $15,000 to fund a collaborative project commissioning activists and artists to present public performances and temporary installations.

      The Vancouver Maritime Museum, Radix Theatre Society, Leaky Heaven Performance Society, and Canada Wild Arts Society also saw their applications rejected. Collectively, these five organizations asked for $77,000.

      Kelly McInnes and Taylor Pearon showcased eco art at Trout Lake last year as part of the Vines Art Festival.
      Sophia Wolfe

      In 2016 council voted to allocate $1.5 million over three years to support public art. Two-thirds came from the 2015-18 capital plan for social and cultural grants, with the remaining third coming from the city's innovation fund.

      This vote led to five "quick start projects" getting underway last year, including the Vancouver Mural Festival. It received $200,000 from the capital plan and another $200,000 in matching funds from the innovation fund.

      "The Society produced a large event and city funding supported 44 of 53 new large-scale murals on 26 buildings as well as celebrating street art with diverse program offerings and tours," a city staff report states. "Beside the murals, the festival included a public market, music shows, and kids programs for all ages and backgrounds."

      On Wednesday, council is also scheduled to vote on a staff recommendation to spend an additional $152,000 on public art community grants ranging from $7,500 to $20,000. Staff would like the largest grants to go to Collingwood Neighbourhood House, Network of Inner City Community Services Society, PHS Community Services Society, and Vancouver Pride Society.

      All the recommendations require the support of eight members of council in order to be approved.