By Andru McCracken
The Columbia Basin Trust has opened their next call for public art. This is the same grant stream that caused two uproars in Valemount just a few months ago. One, when a giant foot sculpture was proposed for the Big Foot Trail and another when the project was given the boot.
This is the last chance for Valemount to qualify for the grant, which is in its last year of a 3-year program.
Program coordinator Michelle D’Entremont explained it’s not clear if the program will be renewed because the Trust is renewing its management plan.
“Residents may give us a whole different direction,” she said. “I don’t know where the residents and board will direct our funds.”
According to the Columbia Basin Trust, the public art program supports the acquisition and installation of original works of art by Basin artists in public spaces and are intended to create a legacy of public art in Basin communities.
The art itself can be a sculpture, a mural or a mosaic and they are open to other ideas too, but D’Entremont took a big step away from getting involved in deciding what is right for communities like Valemount.
“We are leaving all elements of commissioning the work, to the interpretation of the art up to communities,” she said. “We are not getting involved in the concept or art being selected.”
D’Entremont did say that a highway attraction, or something that would be considered an advertisement for the community wouldn’t likely be funded.
“It needs to be for art’s sake. Oftentimes art is being selected that represents the character or the feel of the community,” she said.
D’Entremont said that Michael Heffer’s recently finished mural in Fernie, managed to incorporate concepts of Fernie and the feeling of the community.
“But it’s not a marketing thing,” she said.
The Trust turned down an application for an art piece at the entrance of a community.
“It’s not meant to be a highway attraction. The art should be in a good space where many people can see,” she said.
D’Entremont said she hopes there is a process in place in communities that helps get public art in play.
The funding is for up to $30,000.