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Civic Centre mural goes back to the drawing board

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
June 13th, 2014

The $100,000 mural recently proposed by the Nelson Regional Sports Council for the north and west walls on the Civic Arena is being re-thought, says the group’s executive director Kim Palfenier.

This has come after intense discussion at city council in April and May about how much the city should contribute to the $100,000 project.

Those discussions prompted a meeting between the Sports Council and the city’s Cultural Development Committee (CDC) to jointly review the objectives and plans for the mural. The result: a letter on behalf of both groups, presented to city council on June 9, from Councillor Donna Macdonald, who is a member of the CDC.

The letter asked council to have its staff look into two issues:

“1. The need for gutters or some other mechanism to protect the north-facing wall and the artwork on it. Having moisture pouring over the art will be damaging and shorten the lifespan of this significant investment.

“2. Clarification on the time line and process for deciding on the future and design of the area between Hall St. and the Civic Centre.”

That second point refers to the city’s plans for the re-development of Hall Street. The mural could be seen as part of that because the west wall of the Civic Centre faces Hall Street.

Palfenier says that her organization will now wait for the city to respond to those two issues. She told The Nelson Daily that there is an additional upcoming change that might affect the visibility of the mural: the fate of the Chamber of Commerce building, which will be sold when the chamber moves to Railtown.

“We are not sure what a new owner would do with it,” she said, “or if something bigger will be build there. And the same with the lot behind Finley’s, what happens there might obstruct the viewing of the mural. We thought, well, no point putting up a mural if you can’t see it.”

Palfenier said the project does not have to a mural, but could be multi-media.

“It could be 3D art, it could be anything that could be applied to wall, and not only on the wall but on the ground around the building, because there is a lot of unused space between the wall and the road. It really could be a big project, but we don’t have the money anyway, and that is another reason we had to put it on hold.”

She said the Sports Council might use part of the $10,000 received from the Columbia Basin Trust through the city to pay for a consultant to advise on how best to use the space to complement the city’s reworking of Hall St.

Palfenier explained that a large part of the originally proposed $100,000 budget for the project is for scaffold rental.

She said the mural on the bridge at Lakeside Park, created in 2012, inspired the idea for a mural on the Civic Arena.

“That got us thinking: the Civic Centre is a bland building and it is huge, and wouldn’t it be great to collaborate with the art community. One of our board members at the time said to the city, ‘Do we have a canvass for you guys!’”

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