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PARKDALE VILLAGER | Thursday, March 6, 2014 |

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City looking to turn unsightly construction hoarding into works of art JUSTIN SKINNER jskinner@insidetoronto.com A new initiative being championed by Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam could see unsightly construction hoarding turned into works of art. The WORKSIGHT project, a collaboration between a social enterprise group called the PATCH Project and creative agency Wysp, would see developers hiring local artists to paint murals on the plywood boards erected around construction sites as a means of bringing street art to Toronto. At an event to announce the WORKSIGHT project at City Hall, Wong-Tam noted similar projects have already

taken place in the downtown core. At Allan Gardens, hoarding around an ongoing waterworks project was turned into a First Nations-themed mural, while construction companies Great Gulf and DiamondCorp have also jumped on board with artistic hoarding. “These (construction) sites are here for three to five years and Ward 27 is extremely development-heavy,” she said, noting putting art on the hoarding made the sites far more appealing than ads for condos. “We have literally hundreds of construction sites across the GTA.” PATCH project director of projects and partnerships Mojan Jianfar noted similar initiatives are far more

Photo/DIEGO ROJAS

Artist Javid Jah, left, The Patch Project’s Brent Fairbanks, Ontario College of Art and Design intern Mark Carlson, youth participants Savannah Lavallee and Jeremy Urbina and artist Danilo McCullum take part in an arts workshop.

common in London and New York. While some construction companies might consider the hoarding a space on which they can advertise their projects, she said most sites have plenty of room for both corporate branding and art.

“You could have a percentage that goes to ads and a percentage that goes to art,” she said during the Feb. 26 event. “It’s a blank canvas, so each developer could decide what those portions are and what percentage goes to public art.”

The project, she said, would do more than simply beautify the city. “One of the goals is to create a platform to support emerging artists and bring the idea of the art gallery outside of gallery spaces,” she said. “A lot of people don’t go to galleries, but it’s important to expose them to art.” A group of young Alexandra Park residents spent months working on art that will go up on construction hoarding as that community undergoes a massive redevelopment. They came up with two designs that capture the diversity and aspirations of the neighbourhood. “It was a way to build the fabric of the neighbourhood

into the art,” said Savannah Lavallee, who worked on the project. “It will make the area look nicer and show who the people living there are.” While similar initiatives have already taken place, WORKSIGHT will rely largely on developers’ participation to be a success, though WongTam hopes councillors push to ensure that construction hoarding contains a public art element. “I hope it becomes infectious,” she said. “I hope it becomes deal-standard because we deserve better and our residents deserve better.”

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For more information, visit http://thepatchproject.com

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