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Vancouver artists and BIAs are teaming up to decorate boarded-up storefronts with cheerful murals

The Vancouver Mural Festival is the driving force bringing together artists and community partners to create over 40 temporary murals across the city.
Gastown mural Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 7.47.43 PM
Vancouver artists Mark Illing & Tierney Milne in front of a mural painted in Gastown | Photo by: Dylan Hamm (@dylanhamm /

Have you noticed the bright, cheerful murals that have been popping up on boarded-up windows and storefronts in Gastown over the past several weeks?

Well, the Vancouver Mural Festival (VMF) has - and it wants to jump on board. 




As virtually all non-essential businesses in Vancouver remain closed, Gastown isn’t the only local neighbourhood to see its storefronts replaced by plywood since the COVID-19 pandemic began. So, “VMF approached some of the City’s other impacted neighbourhoods to see if there was an opportunity to collaborate,” the festival explained in a release. 

Today, VMF announced it’s partnering with local businesses and business improvement associations (BIAs) in an effort to support local artists, while bringing hope and positivity to the city’s streets. 

Festival organizers are tapping into their network of artists - as well as their community partners and sponsors like Vancity, the Downtown Vancouver, Robson Street, and South Granville BIAs, the City of Vancouver, and Goodbye Graffiti - to donate temporary mural work that will appear across town. According to VFM, these efforts will result in more than 40 temporary murals that are expected to be completed in only a matter of days. 

“Connecting and supporting local artists and communities is at the core of what VMF is about. When we saw this opportunity for art to bring artists and businesses together in support of our neighbourhoods, we knew we had to take action,” said David Vertesi, VMF’s executive director, in the release. 



Artists will each be paid an honorarium for their work, while the cost of supplies will be covered by the City of Vancouver’s Mural Support Program. 

The goal of each mural? "To spark joy, inspire hope and celebrate resilience."

“During this challenging time, it's important that we do what we can to support, protect and uplift our communities,” added Lisa Parker, branch manager of street activities for the City of Vancouver, in the release. “As part of our Mural Support Program we are pleased to be able to provide paint and supplies to local businesses and artists who are spearheading this valuable and inspiring community expression.”

With the artists set to follow physical distancing guidelines while they create the murals, organizers are urging the public to abide by those measures as well. Those interested in keeping up with the art’s progress can do so virtually by following the hashtag #makeartwhileapart through the @vanmuralfest’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.

The VMF, organized by the non-profit Create Vancouver Society, is planning to return this summer for its fifth year, from July 30 to Aug. 8. As part of the festival, artists have transformed blank walls in Mount Pleasant and throughout Greater Vancouver into over 200 different murals to date.
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