City to review public art policy as controversial murals back on agenda

Murals back before council

As the controversial Behind the Mask murals come before Vernon city council on Monday, councillors will also review the city's defunct public visual arts policy.

The policy hasn't been used since 2009, when the city's public art advisory committee was disbanded.

"Administration has been planning to develop a new policy, but due to competing priorities, has not yet accomplished this task," a report to council states.

At the time, the committee's guiding principles included celebrating and promoting local artists, demonstrating the significance of art in community life, preserving public artworks, and being an integral part of civic planning.

Meanwhile, the mask murals will be back before council after the Vernon Public Art Gallery's presentation of public consultation results last month.

The project, which would see 11 murals around the downtown area, was sent back to gallery for feedback after competing petitions surfaced both for and against the murals.

The petition against the mental health themed murals garnered more than 4,000 names, doubling that of the petition in support.

Council could decide to support the murals in whole or in part, or that the images be displayed only in the art gallery.

The project has caused much debate in the community, with residents split over the concept of support for mental health and the radical visual departure from Vernon's other, historically themed murals.

"Council will need to decide if the consultation conducted by (gallery) meets their expectations," the report states.

Meanwhile, another mural project will also come before council.

The Roster Sports Club Bar and Grill is requesting a great blue heron themed mural on its 53rd Avenue building, adjacent to the birds' nesting grounds.

The project is envisioned as a public show of support for the Vernon Heronry Protection Society.

That mural is not expected to generate any controversy.

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