By MAGGIE M, Editor, http://thewedge.LIVE
A village, town or city that gives its residents a sense of place is in good stead. It will stave off migration of talent and stimulate growth. This sense of belonging to something special is not achieved by spaghetti nights at the local hall. It requires far more.
Where we live is a badge on our chest. We either boast of its splendour or bemoan its lack of it. It’s muni-social anthropology (my term).
People perk up when announcing they hail from Almonte, Westport or Perth, for example, three of the most idyllic towns in the wedge (East Ontario). These towns’ centres are manicured, colorful and rich in heritage, and accordingly, big tourist draws.
Color and form are creeping into municipal budgets everywhere under “revitalization, beautification and streetscaping.” Flower baskets and flags tend to be the outcome of many negotiations for lack of funds, or perhaps, political will. Often ordinances limit or slow creative execution. There is great, untapped potential within many creative initiatives.
Guy Laflamme, Executive Director, Ottawa 2017, has brought street theatre to Ottawa. These are immersive experiences with entertainment value on par with Cirque du Soleil; but, they tend to leverage material over human form. Inspiration Village, a new installation built completely from sea containers has replaced the By Ward Market parking lot this May.
Installations can remain long-term to stimulate local economies and drive tourists to our region. Many venues from Expo 67, Montreal, and Olympic events around the world remain in use in perpetuity.
Every withering building wall is a canvas. Every plain door, window, rooftop, lamp post, bench, sidewalk, road, can be transformed by color. Colorful awnings are powerful in extending meeting, dining and shopping space and store identity. Street beauty is easily achievable; yet, incrementally, year after year, facades fade into oblivion.
Large scale art on walls including classics, originals and trompe-l’oeil offer powerful and affordable beauty makeovers.
Endorphins course through people’s brains when presented with order, color and pleasing form. These are known as the happy chemicals. Conversely, debris, dirt, decay, worn and tattered surfaces send the mind into a tailspin. These cues can trigger dread and a desire to escape.
A new BIA Coordinator recently spoke of the use of paint and her vision for the odd empty shops and bear walls as temporary canvasses. This energetic woman may just add enough beauty to stimulate her town’s economy–with the backing required.
Monuments, sculptures, fountains and unique features attract photo-ops and foot traffic. Municipalities should look to being bold in the future. The beauty contest is fierce.
Ottawa under the leadership of Mayor Jim Watson has thrown down the gauntlet. The city has become a leading travel destination around the world as a result of its bold, wild and immersive events and installations. Funds were matched from the private sector to make its transformation possible. Where there is a will, there is way.