In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, STEPS supported GTA 11 Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) to develop 41 art installations in collaboration with 20 local artists. Ranging from sidewalk decals to storefront exhibits, installations fostered a sense of community during local economic recovery.
One of Riverside BIA's Main Street Art Challenge activation sites featuring community members highlighted in the series, collaborating artists Bareket Kezwer and Yshmael Cabana, RBC Royal Bank partners, and STEPS staff. The Riverside BIA won the Community Engaged Award for their storefront storytelling series "Humans of Riverside: Giving Voice and Making Space for BIPOC". Picture credits: Selina McCallum (CNW Group/STEPS Public Art)
"Our one-of-a-kind table coverings in parklets, captured the vitality and unique qualities of the Chinatown community, producing an inviting space for visitors to safely enjoy their meals, supporting our local businesses." said Lucia Huang, of Chinatown BIA.
BIAs competed for a chance to win prizes to help them bring more art to their districts. The winners include: the Chinatown BIA, the Riverside BIA, and the Port Credit BIA, who each won prizes in three respective award categories, Innovative, Community-Engaged, and Transformative.
Winners receive financial and other support for future placemaking in their districts, including artist fee subsidies. "RBC has a longstanding commitment to supporting the arts" said Corrie Jackson, RBC Royal Bank Senior Curator and Award Committee member. "Our deep congratulations to all the artists and BIAs who participated in bringing vibrancy and creativity to the GTA. Your work has allowed for engagement with our streetscapes in new and innovative ways."
Rosie Little Jeffares, Riverside BIA Co-Chair, which won for their storefront storytelling exhibit shared that the challenge provided "the opportunity to creatively respond during these challenging economic times while recognizing some of the amazing local artists and leaders we have in our community."
Nastasha MacKinnon, from the Port Credit BIA, which won for converting their large cement benches into dynamic street art expressed how " the challenge allowed us to undertake a project that we had been envisioning for some time, transforming our streetscape and unifying our BIA catchment through art. We are so excited to continue the momentum ignited by this public art initiative."
The Main Street Art Challenge is just one of the COVID-response programs
STEPS launched to support communities impacted by the pandemic.
STEPS is a Canadian-based public art organization that fosters dynamic, inclusive and resilient communities through one-of-a-kind art initiatives. They encourage all those seeking placemaking support to email
and follow @stepsinitiative on Instagram
SOURCE STEPS Public Art
For further information: For information/interviews: Alexis Kane Speer, 416-366-6565x3, email@example.com
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