News / Calgary

Calgary looking to expand utility-box art program with local 'rosters' of artists

With the success of Calgary’s Utility Box Program, the city is looking to expand the initiative this year by developing an artist roster in communities across Calgary that it can draw from.

Dawn Ford, program coordinator for the City of Calgary, said she has received an increasing number of requests from communities around the city looking for an artist to colour up a utility box in their community. By creating an artist roster, Ford added, communities can be more involved in picking an artist to revamp a utility box in their area.

“We’ve had an extensive amount of community requests each year to do more and more boxes in specific locations, so we’ve had to look at ways to build the program to support all of the different communities,” Ford said.

Artist Emma Bresola has been involved with the program since its inception in 2011, and is known for the elaborately painted dinosaur-themed utility boxes around southwest Calgary communities like Rosscarrock and Killarney.

She said a recent change to the program she hopes to see continue is involving residents in the design process.

Last year, Bresola engaged community members by hosting a workshop where people were encouraged to either draw themselves or give input on what they wanted to see on the utility boxes in their neighbourhood.

“Some of the designs people created during the workshop I ended up including in my final design,” Bresola said. “The response was positive from the community — they were very enthusiastic. I think this is a positive step for the communities and for the artists.”

Initiated in 2010, the Utility Box Program started as a way to support independent artists in Calgary by allowing them a public forum to showcase their work, and to reduce vandalism around the city.

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