Media Release: App Launch and 50+ Artists Bring Public Art to Main Streets Across Ontario Timed with Reopening

Featured Artist: Katrina Canedo for Port Credit BIA
Photo Credit: Selina McCallum

STEPS Public Art, through its I HeART Main Street program, presented in partnership with RBC Royal Bank, will support Ontario Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in producing new public art along their commercial main streets. Twenty-six BIAs and over fifty artists will create public art across Ontario ranging from murals to storefront window installations that engage their communities, celebrate local culture, and support their main street recovery strategies.

Through I HeART Main Street, STEPS hopes to forge new partnerships, create paid opportunities for artists, and amplify the role that arts and culture can play in Ontario’s community recovery process, while fostering a sense of rediscovery across its local business districts. “This program highlights what artists do for society— they inspire excitement, bring happiness and encourage people to look at their community in a different way,” shared Erin McCluskey, one of the artists behind Port Credit BIA’s award-winning 2020 Main Street Art Challenge.

Supported projects demonstrate how small-scale activations can foster impactful changes for businesses and arts communities while promoting community resilience and wellbeing. “Our alleyways boast a ton of potential, but are not being put to use. With an increase in demand for outdoor patios, we’re reimagining these spaces with STEPS through I HeART Main Street to make the area more welcoming,” shared Madeleine Riley from Downtown Whitby BIA. 

“By showcasing the stories of business owners through art, we’re engaging visitors in the true essence of the area,” shared Vinita Kalia from Albion Islington Square BIA.

To further encourage safe exploration, STEPS has launched the STEPS Public Art web and mobile app (available on Apple and Android devices) to encourage Ontarians to discover and engage safely with the artwork coming to their local neighbourhood. 

For updated information on the program, participating BIAs and artists throughout the summer, visit Follow @STEPSpublicart and #MainStreetArtChallenge to experience these creative projects through September 2021. 

Partners and Supporters

I HeART Main Street, presented in partnership with RBC Royal Bank and the City of Toronto, is generously supported by the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative funded by the Government of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Ontario ReConnect funded by the Government of Ontario.

Logos for RBC, City of Toronto, Canada Healthy Communities Initiative, Government of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Province of Ontario through Ontario ReConnect
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