A good foundation for the city’s international mural festival has been secured for the next five years.
The Nelson and District Arts Council (NDAC) requested and received a guarantee of $25,000 in funding from the City of Nelson to continue the International Mural Festival in 2023, as well as ongoing funding of the same annual amount until 2027.
Although in 2022 NDAC was able to increase the funding provided by the City of Nelson by almost 10 times — to the tune of approximately $242,000 of income — the city’s share was essential seed money, said NDAC executive director Sydney Black.
“The majority of the additional funding secured was as a result of the foundational support of the City of Nelson,” she told city council on Sept. 6 during its regular business meeting at City Hall. “If that foundational support were to disappear, the festival would be unable to operate fully, as much of the funding secured is reliant on receiving financial support from the municipality.”
Over the past five years, NDAC has made an annual request to the city in the amount of $25,000, but has also been very successful in leveraging these funds to secure further funding, from $73,000 in its first year to almost $217,000 this year.
Black said NDAC has hosted the Nelson International Mural Festival for the last five years (2018-2022) and is planning to continue doing so annually for the foreseeable future.
This year the festival was able to return to an in-person public event after two years of virtual celebrations as a result of the pandemic, with hundreds of attendees at a number of events and workshops.
The 2022 festival included the addition of eight murals in the downtown core.
The NDAC funding requests for 2018-2022 were funded through the Downtown Reserve account, which is where the money will continue to come from.
The festival in 2022 has proven to be more important and impactful than ever before, Black wrote in a letter to the city.
“Our community has shown its immense appetite for public gatherings and we were honoured to hold our first in-person festival after two years of virtual celebrations due to the pandemic,” she wrote.
The festival received substantial additional funding this year as a result of the one-time opportunity in the province’s Festivals, Fairs and Events Recovery Programming.
That meant the 2022 festival was able to support five full time (seasonal) staff and 12 local contractors, paying professional wages to eight muralists and 50 performance acts.
“The majority of our supplies are purchased locally, as are our equipment rentals,” said Black. “Our street party saw over 2,500 attendees throughout the weekend and we were able to create a safe space for community connection.”
Access was a huge focus for the festival this year, and NDAC was the first festival in the region to host live American Sign Language interpreters so that all members of the community were able to participate in the event.
NDAC also has a partnership with Cycling Without Age who offered trishaw mural tours over the weekend for people who faced mobility issues.
In 2022 eight additional murals were added to the roster of 38 that the mural festival/NDAC have already spearheaded.
“The creation of the murals has been incredibly important this year as locals and tourists continue to be eager to source ways to interact with arts, culture and heritage,” said Black. “The murals continue to offer an opportunity for humans to interact with diverse cultures, as well as the chance to connect with the regional Indigenous Nations on whose unceded territories we all live, work and create, increasing the relationships not only between NDAC and the Nations, but also the city of Nelson.”
Source: NDAC letter to city council, Sept. 6