GUEST COMMENT: Public art enhances our community

Public art not only beautifies a community; it facilitates social cohesion

Have you visited the public boat launch at the Best Western Premier Prestige Oceanfront Resort lately?

If not, consider dropping by for a visit. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that the once plain, cinder block electrical house has been transformed into an attractive mural.

The mural depicts the many outdoor activities available around Sooke: deep sea fishing, fly fishing, surfing, kayaking, whale watching, zip lining, biking, hiking and horseback riding.

You will be even more surprised to learn that this mural was planned, drawn and painted by a half dozen students with a little help and guidance from adult artists.

It not only exemplifies the skill of these young artists, but demonstrates the ability of multi-generational individuals to work together to design something that enhances our environment while developing a sense of pride  and ownership. It says: “This is what we have to offer. Sooke is a fun place.”

This is a project to be proud of, not only because of the people who painted it, but because it was such a cooperative endeavor. The Sooke Fine Arts Society and Pacific Centre Family Services coordinated and supervised the mural. The District of Sooke, Rotary Club and Sooke Fine Arts provided funds while Sooke Home Hardware and Dulux Paint donated equipment and supplies.

Sooke already has public art we can be proud of and that is good for our community. The District of Sooke’s arts and beautification committee has plans that will enhance our community even more.

With the many changes to Sooke these days there are both public and private spaces that could be enhanced by public art. Fortunately our district is looking ahead and already realizes the benefits of public art.

The district’s Town Centre Illustrative Design Handbook calls for the inclusion of public art. Sooke’s parks master plan and Sooke’s cultural plan also call for the district to “explore opportunities to support and celebrate arts and culture in Sooke’s parks and trails.”

It is reassuring to know that that the district recognizes the importance of public art, how integral it is to the vision of Sooke, and how it is very much the town’s mandate to encourage and facilitate the addition of public art at every opportunity.

Let’s welcome the opportunity to work as a community to create more public art. With so many talented people in Sooke, we have the ability to add to the community’s artistic and cultural flair.

Public art not only beautifies a community; it facilitates social cohesion, attracts tourists, fosters a sense of ownership and pride, and preserves our collective memory.

The mural at the public docks may be our most recent contribution to public art. Let’s add to it by willingly exploring new possibilities.

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Linda Teneycke is a director with the Sooke Fine Arts Society.