The studies we have identified are not easy to read being created by academics and intended to cover all the bases in detail without the simplicity of definite, one sentence conclusions.
Here are Jerry Rollings conclusions based on reading these studies and talking to Mural people.
Small Town Murals. There are many small town murals programs. Nearly all of them are not close to a major highway and focus on a limited number of local attractions, history and personalities. Some obviously lost interest years ago and the old murals are fading and no new ones are planned. Some programs are ongoing and highly organized. In every case the aim was to increase tourism and local pride.
In our area Toppenish is the best example. They have a tour and a staffed office.
The shining star among small towns is Chemainus on Vancouver Island. It is three miles off the main highway but has manage to create a tourist industry where there was none before through the mural program.
Large Town Murals. The two most notable programs are Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The Great Wall of Los Angeles is 1/2 mile long, 13 feet high and painted on the wall of a concrete drainage canal. It emphasizes the contributions and struggles of women and minorities in the history of California. There are many other murals in LA but it’s a big town! There is no central organizing facility.
The approach in Philadelphia is entirely different. It was formed in 1986 to achieve two goals; graffiti reduction and arts education. Initially large amounts of public funding were involved but a non profit to raise funds has since assumed some of the $1,500,000 annual cost. In one period from 2001 to 2004 600 murals were created. The program employs 100 convicted graffiti artists and 200 professional artists each year.
Medium size like Vancouver. No generalization is possible for medium size towns but increases in tourism and civic pride are prominent aims.
How does Vancouver fit in?
Access is superior to almost all small and medium size towns. The local history and cultural significance is better than anywhere on the West coast and on a par with many East coast locations.
The only regulation limiting mural images is that it may not serve a commercial purpose. Many jurisdictions have arbitrary and confusing rules.
Conclusions. Vancouver has an unusual opportunity at present. We have extensive history, natural phenomena and features as subjects, excellent local artists, supportive material sponsors, an enthusiastic Mural Society and 24 successful downtown murals.
A push to get 100 attention getting and interesting murals downtown will put us over the top to achieve a destination for local, area and out of area visitors.
Please join us in helping to achieve our goal!