Riley Park’s new bandstand

Thank you, City of Calgary Parks Department

Water for Riley has enjoyed a productive relationship with staff of the City of Calgary Parks Department. From the beginning of the project, Councillor Farrell, Ron Buchan and Michelle Reid understood the vision to bring a student-designed, artistic, functional drinking fountain to Riley Park.

W4R has accomplished so much and it wouldn’t have happened without their support.

Michelle Reid, Councillor Druh Farrell, and Ron Buchan meet with Michelle Vincent, lead W4R volunteer.

Coming soon to Riley Park, again courtesy of Parks Department

For years, the only remnant of the prior bandstand was its concrete footprint, like a dinosaur print preserved in clay.

March, 2017, all that remained of the bandstand in Riley Park was this concrete pad.

Now, the bandstand rises again

April, 2018

A new permanent bandstand on the concrete pad replaces one that Nature destroyed.

Located near the new children’s playground, the bandstand will provide shelter and entertainment. This cluster of activities sorely needs drinking water. The drinking fountain will provide that water to thirsty entertainers and their audiences.

With the playground, activities and the wading pool drawing children and families to Riley Park, a drinking fountain is ever more important. Fortunately, with the help of W4R’s wonderful partners and sponsors, the drinking fountain also draws ever nearer in time.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

 

How a great community grows

Why are Water for Riley (W4R) volunteers working so hard to bring a drinking fountain to Riley Park?

Simple answer: Hillhurst Sunnyside (HS) is a terrific community, in every sense of the word community. While the community grows in population, with new developments and densification, it isn’t adding services. W4R aims to add one service to Riley Park, to accommodate the growth in HS residents.

As a member of the Federation of Calgary Communities, our HS community, especially the volunteers, live the “resident-led solutions” motto. W4R is a totally resident led effort.

W4R volunteers too often let social media slide, spending valuable hours on guiding the fabrication of the drinking fountain, dealing with finances, interpreting contract language, and fundraising. Social media fell to the bottom of the to-do list.

Thanks to W4R’s relationship with HSCA, we gratefully piggy back on HSCA social media to have this reach:
HSCA Website Page Views: 6734
Facebook Likes: 1718 increased 20
Twitter Followers: 3589 increased 25
Instagram Followers: 857 increased 25
Newsletter Subscribers: 1936 decreased 7

Social media is important for staying connected to the people who will benefit from the drinking fountain. Here are some interesting statistics about how to connect:

What can you do? Join a local community association for the connections and the other benefits, like discounts at local businesses, taking programs, and making new friends. Better yet – donate to W4R.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision a reality at the Parks Foundation Calgary. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to volunteer. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

To all donors, supporters, partners and friends, thank you from the volunteers of Water for Riley.

 

2018: the year of the drinking fountain in Riley Park

Water for Riley has a strong start to the year

Water for Riley (W4R) will receive Northwest Healthcare Properties REIT’s (NWHP) substantial financial gift in 2018, no strings attached. The contribution is part of NWHP’s commitment to being a good neighbour to beautiful Riley Park. Terry Schmitt, NWHP Regional General Manager, Western Canada, and Tracy Hume, NWHP Regional Property Manager, met with W4R on February 26, 2018, to discuss logistics.

Gena Rotstein, Tracy Hume and Terry Schmitt at NWHP office

Reflecting Blooms is in the construction queue

The artistic, functional drinking fountain created by ACAD student and emerging artist, Michelle Lazo, is in Plan Assist stage. Naturally, Heavy Industries needs a contract to lay out the responsibilities and rights for it and its client.

This opened quite an interesting discussion: who is Heavy Industries’ client?

W4R is what’s known as a legal fiction. It exists as the project’s name and a group of volunteers who ensure the bills are paid. The City of Calgary is the ultimate owner of the drinking fountain, but is not the client. An ACAD student owns the IP in the design, but is not the client. HSCA is the oversight body of W4R’s volunteer Project Manager, but is not the client.

The dilemma has now been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. The contract will have all the proper signatures this week.

Michelle Reid, Parks Dept, Greg Courage, Heavy Industries, Ron Buchan, Parks Dept, worked out satisfactory contractual language.

2018’s four remaining tasks

Task #1 is continued fundraising to bridge the gap between income and expenses.

Task #2 is managing the paperwork associated with the drinking fountain’s fabrication.

Task #3 is ongoing engagement with W4R’s community, stakeholders, sponsors, and partners, especially on social media, for which we thank HSCA for its platforms, apps, and assistance.

Task #4 will be a ribbon cutting celebration sometime in autumn.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision a reality at the Parks Foundation Calgary. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to volunteer. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

To all donors, supporters, partners and friends, thank you from the volunteers of Water for Riley.

See you in person, this autumn, at the opening celebration of the drinking fountain in Riley Park.

 

Major sponsor uplifts Water for Riley

Welcome 2018 and NWHP,
W4R’s new sponsor

The North West corner of Riley Park is the old Grace Hospital. NorthWest Healthcare Properties (NWHP) owns the site, which is slated for redevelopment. It’s early stage, and NWHP hasn’t yet made planning decisions or submitted permit applications.

NWHP expresses its commitment to working with the community for mutual benefits. Members of the Hillhurst Sunnyside community have engaged with NWHP, with the goals of optimizing use of the prime inner-city location and fitting with the neighbourhood.

Water for Riley (W4R) is one of the stakeholders interested in NWHP’s plans for the land. After all, whoever lives and/or works in the Grace site has Riley Park for a yard.

One decision has W4R excited!

In NWHP’s own words, from Terry SchmittRegional General Manager, NorthWest Healthcare Properties REIT:

We are pleased to advise you that NorthWest Healthcare Properties would like to accept your proposal to become a major sponsor of the Water for Riley project by offering a donation of $50,000. NorthWest has been and will continue to be a long term member of the community and is excited about the opportunity to participate in this project.
Terry Schmitt and Tracy Hume of NWHP met with Michelle Vincent, volunteer with W4R.

In W4R’s words, we are grateful NWHP wants to be a good neighbour, W4R’s major sponsor, and participant in this adventure. This is a no-strings attached donation to the community for Riley Park.

The gift is important for so many reasons

This amazingly generous gift will allow us to complete the fabrication of Reflecting Blooms and plant the blooms this year. It motivates volunteerism in our wonderful community. It means we will come together, as a community, at a celebration when the drinking fountain opens. It demonstrates that community and developers can find common ground for mutual benefit.

 With this incredible gift, the drinking fountain might be almost fully funded. We await final cost of building it before we know for sure. The fabricators, Heavy Industries, is in the Plan Assist stage to confirm the final costs. Once we have that number, we will know if a gap exists between cost and cash on hand. Stay tuned for more news.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;

for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

 

Calgary winter, 2017-style

The holiday season is here

This is the winter scene that greeted Trail on his morning walk in Riley Park. (Not that there is much winter this December, 2017, as seen in the green background of the +15C record warm temperature.)

Trail and his BFF Jake, appreciate the holiday greeting from Anonymous Santa

To whoever took the time to make beautiful Riley Park
more festive with big bows this winter, thank you.

 

Season’s greetings and thank you from Water for Riley

Year’s end is a nostalgic time, and Water for Riley isn’t immune from the sentiment. 2017 marked some successes, some set-backs and lots of steps forward we’re proud to share. This year-end is a chance for huge thanks to all who made the drinking fountain in Riley Park manageable and close to reality.

Public art became a contentious issue in Calgary, with pushback from taxpayers and residents about the quality of art installations in public spaces. Water for Riley followed the debate with interest since the drinking fountain will be public art as well as a functional fountain. Water for Riley adhered to a different process than the Public Art Program. All 21 drinking fountain designs were displayed throughout the community in many venues, comments collected, and a professional jury of local residents specifically chosen for their expert credentials and their expertise in the neighbourhood. The transparent process resulted in a design that most residents accept.

Throughout the year’s many meetings, displays, marathon document writing sessions, and fundraising efforts, the organizing committee received and greatly appreciates the excellent guidance and advice from: IBI Group, Ron Buchan and Michelle Reid of City of Calgary Parks Department, The Calgary Foundation, The Parks Foundation of Calgary, Gena Rotstein of Place2Give Foundation, Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association, Framed on Fifth, Sunnyside Natural Market, Nulli Identity Management, and Heavy Industries, Sally Truss, Michelle Vincent, Kerry Harmer, ACAD’s Marion Garden, among others. They worked hard to ensure the volunteers managing this grassroots project stayed on track.

To all donors, supporters, partners and friends, very warm greetings for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018, from the volunteers of Water for Riley. See you in person, this summer, at the opening celebration of the drinking fountain in Riley Park.

If you donate to Water for Riley, you will receive a tax receipt from The Parks Foundation Calgary.

 

Updating neighbours on progress

Community engagement is Water for Riley’s core value

Water for Riley’s (W4R) volunteer organizing committee is committed to engaging a wide range of communities. It’s important to keep groups and individuals with an interest in Riley Park up to date on progress. We’re closing on the goal of getting a beautiful, functional, artistic drinking fountain for Riley Park’s active users.

This week W4R volunteers checked in with Riley Park neighbours

The Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA) has a new Executive Director, Karen Gallagher-Burt. W4R was happy to meet with Karen to introduce the project, and delighted that she was already well informed about it. Karen said: “Water for Riley is a very good news story.”

From the start, Water for Riley has been an ad hoc subcommittee of HSCA’s Community Planning Committee (CPC), reporting to the Chair of the CPC, Robert McKercher. Robert always gives sage advice, so it was nice to report on W4R’s status and get his feedback.

Karen Gallagher-Burt, E.D. of the HSCA, and Robert McKercher, Chair of the CPC
Karen Gallagher-Burt, E.D. of the HSCA, and Robert McKercher, Chair of the CPC, met with W4R volunteer, Deborah Sword.

This week W4R volunteers checked in with Riley Park future neighbours

The Grace Hospital, north of Riley Park’s 10 Ave N.W. boundary and East of 14 St. N.W., has been purchased for redevelopment. The owner now is Northwest Healthcare Properties (NWHP), with big plans for a mixed-use development on the site.

W4R met with Terry Schmitt, NWHP Regional General Manager, Western Canada, and Tracy Hume, NWHP Regional Property Manager. Terry and Tracy expressed their interest in being good neighbours in our great community, which is W4R’s interest also.

Terry Schmitt, and Tracy Hume of NWHP, and Michelle Vincent, Lead Volunteer of Water for Riley

This week W4R volunteers checked in with Riley Park municipal neighbours

On Feb 17, 2015, before Water for Riley was named or formed, its current volunteer Project Manager sent an email to Ron Buchan, City of Calgary Parks Department, and asked if there was any possibility of getting a drinking fountain in Riley Park. Ron answered right away and he’s been answering right away ever since. In fact, Ron has shown up every time W4R has needed and invited him.

Michelle Reid, Cultural Landscape Lead in the City of Calgary Parks Department, has consulted to W4R for over a year. She has always offered good counsel and excellent ideas, and encouraged the student designers.

On June 19, 2012, W4R’s current volunteer Project Manager sent an email to Councillor Druh Farrell asking about a drinking fountain design challenge with ACAD and SAIT. Druh answered right away that: “I think it’s a great idea… I’m also sending a note to Parks, … as Riley Park is a regional park and gets a huge amount of use.” Druh, who was recently re-elected in Ward 7, provided W4R with a letter of support early in the W4R process, and has brought attention to events through her good offices.

We reported on the current status of fundraising efforts and drinking fountain fabrication. The City of Calgary has been incredibly helpful to W4R  and it’s a pleasure to work with them.

Michelle Reid, Councillor Druh Farrell, Ron Buchan, Michelle Vincent, Lead Volunteer of Water for Riley

Keeping all the communities of interest connected is one of the most positive impacts of W4R. You are part of the community.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

 

Is the finish line in sight?

The two remaining tasks take shape

  1. Task #1 is fundraising to complete the drinking fountain project. We have had several interesting prospect meetings, and more are booked.
  2. Task #2 is project managing the fabrication of the drinking fountain.

Meanwhile, we continue engaging with W4R’s wonderful partners:

ACAD is exploring an opportunity, subject to its own resource pressures, which intrigues Water for Riley volunteers. 19 September, 2017, we met with new ACAD staff member, Marion Garden, and ACAD teacher and W4R champion, Kerry Harmer. Kerry shared the reasons that Riley Park matters and deserves a blockbuster, public art, drinking fountain. Marion was interested in the process W4R used to bring institutions together and build community around the project.

W4R’s story is so inspiring that Marion wants to help. Her idea is fascinating. From early in the project the community engagement process has been thick and rich, and ACAD videographers tagged alone with equipment. Huge, raw data files are now cached in ACAD’s computers. Marion is exploring how to cull the footage and shape the story of how students designed the drinking fountain. This will be a long term collaborative project for ACAD.

Marion and Kerry at ACAD meeting, 19 Sept 2017
Marion Garden, new Director, Marketing & Communications, Alberta College of Art + Design and Kerry Harmer, teacher and mentor of student designers.

The drinking fountain prototype is slotted into a queue:

18 October 2017, Water for Riley volunteers met the consultants again, this time to see the fabricator’s scheduling plan, and identify the right people to answer the more detailed and technical questions. The meeting goal was to nail down the information needed to proceed with the Design Assist phase.

W4R and consultants meet with a full agenda to discuss
Heavy Industries created the Plan Assist, which focused the team members on how the project will unfold and tasks for each step.
Gregory Courage (Heavy Industries), Michelle Vincent, W4R volunteer, Amanda Polini and Prasad Ganesan (IBI Group), and Kevin Poole and Connor Hayduk (Heavy Industries).

From the meeting, we have a better idea of what we don’t yet know that the Design Assist will reveal and what questions to ask. IBI Group has already connected with City of Calgary staff to get key information.

The project is getting down to the technical details.

Now, we wait for the answers to become clear, which, by Heavy Industries’ estimate, is four to five months.

None of this would happen without the wonderful funders who supply the money to pay for the fountain. We are especially grateful to The Calgary Foundation for its incredible support.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

 

 

Autumn fun Riley Park

The weather was so spectacular today, Riley Park was a major attraction.

Here’s a highlight list of uses observed in the brief duration of our dog walk:

  • Quidditch practice – Calgary Kelpies
  • Dog walkers
  • Full children’s playground
  • Acrobatic team practice
  • Community picnic
  • Cricket game
  • Music group
  • Walkers
  • Floral enthusiasts
  • Runners
  • Sunbathers
  • Readers
  • Bikers
  • Frisbee
  • Soccer

All those active people of all ages and ethnicities, and no public water available – YET.

Quidditch Calgary, Team Kelpies
Cricket practice in the Riley Park “bull pen”
University of Calgary soccer team practice in Riley Park’s common area
Last blooms of Riley Park

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

 

Riley Park to have public art

While the Water for Riley volunteer committee took summer vacation, Calgary’s public art policy stayed controversial. W4R followed the debate because the drinking fountain in Riley Park will be public art.

How to recognize public art

The simple test for deciding what is public art: did an artist create it? The drinking fountain is art because an artist designed it. It’ll be in a public space. Ergo; it’s public art.

The unique aspect of Water for Riley is that its designer is a student artist. Michelle Lazo was in her first year at ACAD when she submitted her winning design, Reflecting Blooms. She’s an emerging artist, with many successes already on her resume.

The artist had a vision

Michelle has a special connection to Riley Park, which the jury didn’t know when it selected her design. Michelle, in her acceptance speech, told the crowd that her father worked for Calgary’s Parks Department. “Dad worked there. Now my thumbprint will be there too.”

She grew up going to Riley Park and loved the flowers that inspired her design. She said all the experiences came together, and she felt like she’d come full circle.

“The idea of Reflecting Blooms is to create an area in Riley Park that provides not only a hydrating space but also to engage a whimsical interaction with the sculptures.  The major inspiration for the fountain derived from the beautiful floral beds of Senator Patrick Burns Rock Garden.”

Thanks to Dana for sharing this inspiration in her photos.

Floral gardens in Riley Park. Photo credit Dana, CalgaryPlaygroundReview.com
Floral gardens Senator Patrick Burns garden. Photo credit Dana, CalgaryPlaygroundReview.com

Taste in art is subjective

As a community-based, volunteer driven project, W4R welcomes opinions about the drinking fountain’s design. Some visitors to Riley Park will appreciate and love the winning design, and, obviously, some people won’t. We look forward to being part of the larger civic discussion.

Be part of Calgary’s public art legacy;
for Riley Park, for you, and for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.

Meanwhile, experts on public art comment on the controversy and one such opinion is reproduced below:

City can be a leader in investing in the arts
CALGARY HERALD
Published on: September 11, 2017

Calgary is becoming a world-class city, and art has to be part of our evolution, writes Aritha van Herk:

A part of me understands the perplexity of political candidates confronted with debates about culture, the arts, and how to value creative life here in Calgary. They are running for office, and they think about appealing to voters.

What does the average voter want? Employment, shelter, food, education. A safe city. A welcoming city. A city that can be called home, for home is where our loyalties lie. And in that equation, the arts might seem insignificant.

But there is the crux of Calgary’s future. In our current situation, we must find a way to make our home —this city — a magnet. We need people to come here, bringing their entrepreneurial talent, their intellectual wealth and their investment dollars, or we won’t get out of this rut fast.

Calgary is becoming a world-class city, and art has to be part of our evolution. We have a chance to woo the very best in the world, but we have to offer the best. If we are going to become a city where people choose to stay, enhancing our overall wealth, this is the moment to disrupt our old way of thinking, and step forward, with culture as our lodestone.

Art and culture are compasses of change, measurements of evolving economies and identities. Calgary’s character is historically both risk taking and resilient. As companies and talent adapt and innovate in these challenging times, they look to what a city can offer to collaborate with their own entrepreneurial creativity. With all that we have learned, we are positioned to become a city that leads.

Which is where culture and the arts come in. Why do we need the arts? Because they are the lifeblood of a city’s identity, the quintessential element that makes a place distinctive, a destination, a home. And we have a chance, right now, in these turbulent times, to attract the best and the brightest to bring their optimum talent, advantageous ideas and inventive designs.

Calgary is not now perceived as a competitive creative centre, which is a significant barrier to realizing our goals of a diversified and resilient economy. We must become known as a place of creative ferment, for citizens who encounter the vibrations of creative activity are better able to embrace challenge and change.

The arts contribute to our economy, often invisibly, but palpably. Every dollar invested in the arts returns almost double that amount directly and almost triple in tourism benefits. In Calgary, creative industries employ more than 50,000 citizens, and each year, more than 4,000 students in creative areas graduate with degrees from our world-class institutions.

Creativity is good; we can all agree on that. But a creative city is more than lip service. We need a bold vision for Calgary’s creative future, one that enables Calgary’s artists and arts organizations to lead nationally — and to generate the local jobs needed to retain and attract artistic talent.

Most galling of all is the fact that Edmonton’s arts grants per capita are twice as much as ours.

City hall has faltered in its chance to support the arts appropriately. But that can change: an annual investment equivalent to 0.7 per cent of the city’s budget will allow Calgary to position itself as a national leader in arts investment.

The job of artists is to create. The job of politicians is to govern. The two might seem far apart, but they have the same goal: to make this city a place where the best and the brightest come and stay.

In the upcoming civic election, voters need to remember that, and support candidates who plan to invest in our city’s future, and who know that the arts and culture are more than decoration.

Aritha van Herk is writing on behalf of Creative Calgary.

 

Who pays for public art?

Water for Riley asked the question: is the drinking fountain project public art, a public service, educational, a local community building initiative, or more than all of those? The organizing committee believes that Water for Riley encompasses all of those goals.

Water for Riley has stressed community engagement, spending almost two years consulting within and engaging diverse stakeholders of the community, to build awareness of what we are doing for Riley Park, and for our neighbourhood.

When W4R volunteers met with City of Calgary Water Services staff, we discussed this question and this answer captures our views:

Artistic drinking fountains sit in different worlds at the same time.

Art team of City of Calgary Water Services

Who pays for public art; who decides public taste in art?

This Globe and Mail story contains a cautionary tale of what Water for Riley committed to prevent, and an inspirational tale of what Water for Riley has attempted to achieve.

Now, let’s gain the support of more private sector investments to make the drinking fountain a reality.

Here’s the full article:

OPINION Public art, private dollars: Calgary, take note

  • The Globe and Mail (Alberta Edition)
  • 26 Aug 2017

Alberta’s capital is the poster child of failed, embarrassing public art projects. But there is a better way

SCOTT HENNIG Vice-president, communications for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Currently, more than 50 Canadian cities have a public-art program. Many of them either shake down developers to fund public art, or set aside a percentage of a government infrastructure budget for public art. Not surprisingly, the results have often been embarrassing.

Montreal has its fake granite tree stumps. Vancouver has the Main Street Poodle – a seven-foot-tall dog on a pole. Edmonton has its Talus Dome – a giant pile of shiny silver balls blinding nearby drivers on sunny days. Ottawa has the faux badminton racquet light poles in the Jack Purcell Park, honouring the wrong guy with the same name.

But Calgary is the poster child of failed, embarrassing public-art projects. Calgary’s policy of setting aside 1 per cent of each infrastructure project budget to add public art into that project has resulted in unpopular, uninspired, expensive public-art projects being erected in often obscure locations. There’s the giant blue ring called Travelling Light, a LED light display on the side of a waste-water lift station, and Bearing, a large, round metal ball that can only be viewed from inside a fenced-off fire-department maintenance yard. We can’t forget Wishing Well, a shiny interactive metal statue that is now in storage because it burned a hole in a visitor’s jacket. And now, the city has Bowfort Towers, which is so controversial that the area’s city councillor wants it torn down.

Some critics have suggested tweaking the selection process for public art to ensure better outcomes, but perhaps we should look to the Wynwood neighbourhood of Miami for some real direction.

Formerly the inner-city garment district in the mid-20th century, Wynwood was home to a mix of blue- and white-collar workers. But over the second half of the past century, it slowly deteriorated into a slum of worn down homes and impoverished citizens with few job prospects. Race riots and drug busts were not uncommon in the 1990s and businesses fled the area.

However, in the mid-2000s, land developer Tony Goldman saw a real opportunity. Known for his contribution to the redevelopment of New York’s SoHo neighbourhood and Miami Beach, Mr. Goldman bought cheap property in Wynwood – both retail and large warehouses. Between 2004 and 2005, Goldman purchased more than 25 Wynwood properties.

In 2008, Mr. Goldman realized that his large, windowless warehouse walls were the perfect canvas for street art – graffiti. He offered free airfare, accommodations, supplies and a giant canvas to some of the world’s most famous graffiti artists to showcase their work. Dozens took him up on his offer and turned his drab buildings into beautiful works of art. And thus, Wynwood Walls was born.

Now the centrepiece of the neighbourhood, Wynwood Walls is an outdoor, public museum of street art. Artists from around the world now compete to install their work on the walls. Its popularity with tourists has forced Goldman Properties (run by his daughter Jessica after Tony died in 2012) to expand, using shipping containers as canvases where warehouse walls don’t exist.

More impressive than the art itself is what happened in the surrounding area. Neighbouring businesses followed suit, commissioning artwork on their building walls. Today, nearly every building in the neighbourhood has a wall or two adorned with street art.

Since 2008, property values have shot up. Retail spaces that once rented for $10 per square foot now fetch eight times that amount. And warehouses that would have sold for $40 per square foot now sell for as much as $400 per square foot.

Crime rates have plummeted and both retail and residential development have made Wynwood one of Miami’s hot spots. Vogue magazine named Wynwood one of “the world’s coolest neighbourhoods,” and Forbes magazine named Wynwood to its list of “American’s best hipster neighbourhoods.”

All of this occurred because private business owners invested in public art.

Similarly, the most photographed piece of public art in Calgary – the Wonderland sculpture (the 12-metre-high grid-like head) at the Bow Building – was entirely funded by Encana Corporation and Cenovus Energy, not taxpayers.

Miami’s Wynwood Walls cannot be replicated by governments using tax dollars. It can only be replicated by those with skin in the game. Public art has the ability to create tremendous benefit.

The Walls have shown that tourists, citizens, land developers and the city all benefit when the private sector takes the lead on public art.

Calgary’s policy of setting aside 1 per cent of each infrastructure project budget to add public art into that project has resulted in unpopular, uninspired, expensive public-art projects being erected in often obscure locations.

If other cities can do public art better, so can Calgary. The winning drinking fountain design would be beautiful in any setting, and it’s going in Riley Park.

Be part of it;
a beautiful public drinking fountain,
for Riley Park, for you and as a legacy for the future.

Donate to make this vision become reality. At the instructions to seller page, specify that your support is for Water for Riley project. The Parks Foundation issues tax receipts for donations greater than $10.00.

We invite everyone to participate as a volunteer organizer, fundraiser, donor, sponsor, or any other role. Call 403 862 1923 and leave your contact information.