Last year the City saw the rollout of the Art Alley project, which culminated in a large-scale mural created by local artists in order to help revitalize the downtown core.
This summer, the project is back again. Four artists, Bryan Heimowski, Christine Karron, Brian Usher and Dee Stewart have been chosen as the main artists that will create this year’s Art Alley projects. New this year will be a mentoring program between these four artists and local at-risk youths.
“This year we’re going to be mentoring some high-risk youths. What will happen there is that over the next four to six weeks we are going to identify some high-risk youths through some of the local agencies, and they will work in partnership with the artists on the murals,” explained project manager Steve Woolrich.
“Mentoring is all about building relationships and that’s so important with these young people. I know that the artists are excited, and it’s exciting for both groups. The partnership just made sense when (the Red Deer High-Risk Youth Coalition) started talking about some projects we wanted to take on.”
Throughout the months of June, July and August the artists and mentored youths will come together to revitalize areas of the City. Exact locations have not yet been released.
Woolrich said, “We’re at a really early stage right now. We’ve chosen the artists. We’ve submitted information to start the permit process, and probably in the next week or two we will schedule a meeting with the DBA (Downtown Business Association) where we can all sit down and start kind of hashing out the plans. We’ve got to do some mock-ups and sketches so we have an idea of what we’re going to be doing on these walls.”
Art Alley Red Deer is a collaborative project between the City and the DBA. The goal of the program is to utilize research that beautifying areas that regularly attract negative activity actually reduces rates of negative activity in those areas.
Last year the back of the John Howard Society building was turned into a massive, bright mural. The same will happen elsewhere in the City this summer.
“A key word here is community. When we talk about our downtown, specifically with this project, we’re talking about revitalizing and continuing that process. The fact of the matter is that when you revitalize any area, whether it’s downtown or a neighbourhood, you’re creating more interest in the area and more ownership, which in turn increases positive activity on the streets and less crime,” Woolrich said.
“It’s hard to argue with that process and those benefits. It’s such a successful process, no matter what city that’s done it. Not everyone is going to like the art or what we’re doing, because art is different for everybody. However, the benefits are there.”
Art Alley is complimentary to a number of other Downtown Business Association programs that are hoping to make the downtown core more appealing visually and inviting to the public.
“It’s going to be a great summer for these artists. Once we get started, we will certainly encourage people to come down and watch everybody work. Quite a bit of that happened last year. I think right now everybody is just looking forward to this kicking off again in June. We’ll have June, July and August where we’re working on it. We’ve got three months to crank out some great street art,” Woolrich said.