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Public arts committee eager to make mark on city’s arts scene

Committee chairwoman Jennifer McRorie spoke about the group’s activities this year and its upcoming goals during city council’s Nov. 22 budget meeting.  

City hall’s public art advisory committee has been active for less than a year but is already looking toward the future and the potential projects it can pursue or promote.

Committee chairwoman Jennifer McRorie spoke about the group’s activities this year and its upcoming goals during city council’s Nov. 22 budget meeting.  

The public art advisory committee wants $10,000 next year, which is $3,525 more than this year. Its goal is to ask for $13,000 in 2024 because that is traditionally what it received as the murals management committee. 

The committee will also carry forward $29,495.51 from this year, which means its budget next year will be $39,495.51.

McRorie highlighted some of the group’s activities in 2022, such as:

  • Renewing an agreement for 10 years with SaskTel for the Aboriginal mural at 55 Ominica Street West 
  • Rejecting a proposal to install a mural on the Snowbirds Expressway underpass on Main Street South while continuing to explore opportunities there
  • Recommending the installation of a butterfly mural in Crescent Park to support mental health initiatives 
  • Approving a mural maintenance plan from artist Grant McLaughlin, who refurbished the Lost Murals, Clark Bros., Cruising Main Street, Centennial Mural, Air Force Blue, For the Veterans and the Discovery Mural
  • Purchasing a metal bison sculpture from artist Bill Keen for $8,800 and spending $5,500 for its installation and addition of recognition plaques
  • Discussing relocating the “Stormin’ Main Street” mural and finding a new home for the Chinese mural
  • Taking a trolley tour to see all the downtown murals

Some of the committee’s objectives for next year include:

  • Finalizing the installation of the bison sculpture
  • Documenting all public art in city spaces
  • Identifying, repairing and maintaining municipal art, including the murals
  • Promoting and educating the public about the community’s art collection; updating the murals brochure and city website to include all public art
  • Finding a new home for the Chinese mural and the Stormin’ Main Street mural
  • Reviewing the public art policy to ensure all priorities and objectives are met

One of the first things the committee discussed after its creation was its budget allocation, explained Coun. Heather Eby, council’s rep on the committee. While the funding was moderately sufficient, it was also not significant enough for the group to install new public art. 

In the past, it would cost the murals advisory committee $25,000 to install a new mural annually or biannually, she continued. Furthermore, the group would use its funding to maintain murals for one year and then save the rest for a new mural the next year.

“This committee is now looking to the future to accumulate funds for when we can do a bigger project,” Eby stated.

Bill Keen’s sculpture — on which the committee and parks and rec director Derek Blais had significant input — is an exciting piece and an amazing artwork, she said. While it cost the city $8,800 to purchase the sculpture, the actual value of it is between $70,000 to $100,000. 

Eby commended the committee for taking the trolley tour since it generated conversation about what members wanted to see with murals and where their focus should be. 

“It is a fantastic project,” agreed Mayor Clive Tolley.

Coun. Crystal Froese appreciated McRorie’s expertise on the committee, while she was excited to see where the group’s ideas led. She understood that bigger projects require more money but wondered if the group could pursue smaller initiatives.

The committee is open to all possibilities, such as painting more benches since they have added to the city, said McRorie. That — and other projects — are not out of the question.

The next budget meeting is Wednesday, Nov. 30. 

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