Year: 2012 – 2017
Project Lead: Cameron Cartiere

An effective public art installation is not just a beautiful addition to the urban landscape: it often can have a material impact on its surroundings, and on the people who live there. Of course, many public art installations are temporary, erected to mark a special occasion, or installed for a limited time. And most of the time, public art is only planned on a case-by-case basis, a sculpture here, a mural there, and so on. But what happens when public art is treated not just as a temporary activity with a limited scope, but as a long term, coordinated programme taking place on a citywide scale?

Through a unique partnership between Dr. Cameron Cartiere and the city of Marpole, chART Projects has had a unique opportunity to assess the impact of public art on a larger scale, and a longer term: For 5 years, the city of Marpole, the Marpole BIA, and partners like VanCity collaborated on using public art as the driver for community improvement.

Like many projects, this started small: Cameron Cartiere initially approached the city to get permission to install a temporary public artwork in a neglected plot of land formerly used by a petrol station along one of Marpole’s main arteries. The success of this project soon led to other interventions: A street mural, promotional banners, utility box wrappers, more murals, and so on. Eventually, chART Projects even took residence at the Marpole Field House, sponsoring classes, workshops and other events there, even hosting hives for local beekeepers. All these projects leverage chART Project’s community engaged approach, enlisting local residents to either help design public artworks, help produce them, or both.

As a result, over 5 years, Marpole featured more than 20 public art interventions by chART Projects. And the impact has been positive and cumulative: Residents feel more engaged and more connected to each other, the sense of community pride has increased, and this optimism is helping drive other community initiatives through the local BIA and community centre. The recent renewal of chART’s lease at the Marpole Fieldhouse for the next 3 years is a testament to the long term positive impact public art can have on a community.