Toronto, ON – As part of their commitment to pandemic recovery, STEPS has provided free placemaking services to 45+ Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) and paid opportunities to 70+ artists who have since produced 175 public art activations along Ontario commercial main streets through the I HeART Main Street Program. Applications and information session registration are now open to BIAs (including groups in Northern and rural communities) here.
Participating artists and BIAs are considered for awards that recognize exemplary work and support future creative projects in their communities. “Public art revitalizes our communities and a program like I HeART Main Street aligns with business improvement by bringing art and people into local spaces for everyone to enjoy,” shares RBC Regional Vice President Daniel Sadler.
STEPS Executive Director Alexis Kane Speer adds, “this program is one of the ways we are cultivating vibrant independent business districts and providing equity-deserving artists with paid opportunities. We are especially excited about supporting creative placemaking across small to medium size Canadian cities and rural communities which offer unique opportunities for community engagement”
Community Engagement Winner Oakwood Village BIA produced the “Weaving the Future” mural with Moonlight Murals Collective to represent prosperity, and installed mosaic tables by artists Mehtap Mertdogan and Jennifer Chin, who reflected, “The transformation of a familiar setting and engaging artists in their own communities has made this project impactful for me”.
Bloor Annex BIA won the Innovative Award for “Interconnection Audio Stories: Knowledge, Myths and Legends”, a multidisciplinary collaboration with Indigenous mural artist and storyteller Joseph Sagaj, Indigenous storyteller Jacque Lavallee, and audio artist Saroja Ponnambalam, collectively creating an immersive audio experience for an existing mural.
The Transformation Award is presented to Downtown Brockville BIA and Oksana Hawrylak who produced a banner that spans nearly one block and takes inspiration from native plants. The BIA’s Executive Director Lisa Belanger shared, “The introduction of public art has drawn people out and discouraged graffiti vandalism while beautifying the area.”
STEPS is a Canadian-based public art organization that fosters dynamic and inclusive communities through one-of-a-kind art initiatives. I HeART Main Street is presented in partnership with RBC Emerging Artists and supported by Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and funding provided by the Government of Ontario.
Anjuli Solanki, Program Director
416-366-6565 x 4