Committed to Community Engagement The Osoyoos Community Mural Project 2021
Nov 9, 2021
This past winter, an opportunity presented itself to involve the Rotary Club of Osoyoos with a project that would allow the club to engage with the community and to expand our impact here in Osoyoos.
The Club was made aware that we should consider submitting a proposal to the Town of Osoyoos to receive a Community Grant. But what to propose? Susan Cran, the Club’s Public Image and Marketing Director came up with the idea of an art project. Twenty twenty-one was going to be the Town’s 75th Anniversary of incorporation and why not consider creating a mural to celebrate this.
To help pull this proposal together, Susan approached a local community arts society, the Wide Arts National Association (WANA), to elicit their expertise in helping to develop the submission that would go to the Town of Osoyoos. This partnership would undertake all the major elements associated with production of the mural. A location had to be found, a budget had to be developed and most of all, a mural artist would have to be contracted.
We were successful in getting a $4,000 grant from the Town to support the project. The amount provided left the project considerably short of what was required to fund the entire endeavour. Susan undertook the challenge of finding more money. Grants were also acquired from the Osoyoos Credit Union and from the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen. The owner of the building that was chosen for the site of the mural, provided financial support to cover the cost of cleaning and priming the wall.
Still, we needed to get more funds. We had found out that the Rotary Club of Port Alberni-Arrowsmith had also undertook a mural project and to cover their shortfall of funds, the club sold ‘bricks’ (the wall was cinder block) to local businesses and the public. And, it was a success. Contributors received a Certificate of Recognition and larger donors and sponsors were mounted on the mural wall. So, we decided to copy the idea.
What also helped was that we received sponsorship from community businesses that provided free or discounted materials and in kind services. And of course, there was the contribution of our Club members and volunteers from WANA.
After reviewing a number of submissions, the Mural Committee chose Endrené Shepherd of Penticton to be the mural artist. Her concept drawing featured a series of post cards that consisted of a montage of images capturing Osoyoos from 1946 to the present. Our Club and WANA also consulted with the Osoyoos Indian Band to assure that they would be properly depicted. The project was scheduled to begin by late June. As you are well aware, our region was hit with stifling heat just as we started. We had no choice but to shut down. And then, just when we ready to restart, our area was plagued with wildfires that caused much of the Town of Osoyoos and surrounding area to be placed on evacuation alert, another delay. Finally, the smoke from the fires in the area and the interior of BC severely impacted the air quality thus preventing our mural artist from working. So, a project that was to have been completed by the end of July did not get underway until after Labour Day. The good news, as of October 17, we are now finished.
Throughout the process, we received strong community support. Locals and visitors alike stopped by the site and provided positive comments on the mural. At the Saturday Farmers’ Market in Osoyoos, Club members and WANA volunteers sold ‘bricks’ for $25.00 to support the mural project.
To help fund this project, our Club was prepared to provide some of its funds. So, here is the good news. We had hoped that the ‘Buy a Brick’ campaign would cover any shortfall. To our unexpected surprise, we exceeded this amount by $3,500. We believe that the Rotary brand and reputation got people to open their wallets. And as a result, the Club won’t have to commit its funds that it had set aside. It can now redirect them to other community projects. Another benefit is that any surplus funds raised will be placed in a Community Mural Legacy Fund to support the maintenance of this mural and perhaps to support future mural projects in Osoyoos.
Those who contributed to the ‘Buy a Brick’ Campaign are receiving their Certificates of Recognition and their names are being added to a Donor Book of Recognition that has been created. There will be two plaques mounted by the mural. The first will recognize the various granters, sponsors and supporters. The second plaque recognizes the names of those donors who contributed $500 or more to the ‘Buy a Brick’ Campaign. The Club thanks these individuals for their generosity.
No doubt, this mural was a major community undertaking. This project involved all of our Club members in various capacities. The involvement of the Rotary Club of Osoyoos demonstrated what it means to support community and to leave a lasting positive impact on Osoyoos.
Rotary Club of Osoyoos