The Bus Shelter Project started 11 years ago when EMCS art teacher Sue Garat and educational assistant Sue Percival wanted to come up with a way to reduce vandalism in Sooke, and beautify the downtown core. (Dawn Gibson/Sooke News Mirror)

Student art project puts damper on vandalism

Bus stop in town core hasn’t been vandalized in 11 years

A student art project is helping keep vandalism out of Sooke.

The Bus Shelter Project started 11 years ago when EMCS art teacher Sue Garat and educational assistant Sue Percival wanted to come up with a way to reduce vandalism in Sooke, and beautify the downtown core.

“The bus shelters in the core kept getting smashed in and tagged, so it was Sue’s idea to put art in it,” said Garat. “She came up with the design and paired up with a metal worker to make the frames. And now, the bus shelter hasn’t been vandalized since.”

Garat believes the project helped stop the vandalism because people in Sooke have a respect for art and the effort that goes in to it.

The shelters display anywhere from 12 to 24 pieces of student-made art at a time, which are usually acrylic paintings on canvas.

Most of the work is from EMCS students, but about once a year Garat will reach out to the elementary schools to use their art.

The art pieces are swapped out around four times a year, and are usually themed towards the season.

“In the summer we try to put up pieces that revolve around tourism, like a painting of the water, or people in a coffee shop, and last winter we had more of a blue theme for cooler weather,” explained Garat. “But it changes all the time and sometimes it’s just random.”

She said this year there are a couple of advance placement art students that have been playing the role of a curator, choosing the themes and pieces that are used.

“It’s a great opportunity because it gives the students similar experience to working in a gallery and choosing which art is on display,” said Garat, adding that student involvement in the bus stop has increased greatly over the years.

“It used to be me or Sue that swapped all the art out every time, but now the students do it. They want to be involved, they ask if their work will be put in, and they get excited when they can show their families.”

Garret attributes a lot of the project’s success to the District of Sooke, who has given a grant to help fund the project every year. This year, the district gave $1,600 in funding to keep the project going.

“This project is great because it shows the district supports its youth, but it also shows that we take care of our town core and want it to look good. So when tourists come here and they see things like this, it’s more welcoming, and they will want to spend time here,” said Garat.

“And it benefits the students because it gives them a place to publicly display their work and feel proud, while also being directly involved in the beautification of Sooke.”

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