by Katie Burley

The area along First Avenue from Eighth Street to the railway tracks is just one of many art projects underway to beautify the community. The two-year Airdrie Street Lamp Banner Program has been launched through a partnership between the City of Airdrie, Camgill Enterprises, Creative Airdrie and the Airdrie Regional ARTS Society.

The project has helped enhance the city’s identity, image and vibrancy in not just the arts community, but also the entire community. More than 250 local artists submitted their work, but only 33 were chosen to be showcased, an opportunity that many artists can only imagine.

For Glen Collin, Airdrie Regional ARTS Society president, the project is important to the growing city. “It is a way to recognize local and emerging talent,” Collin says. “It gave local talent an opportunity to participate in a juried art show, and gives us a chance to meet and encourage them to join us in more activities.”

These banners are a big step towards the enhancement of the arts in Airdrie. “It is a talking point of pride for residents when they describe our city to other people,” says Collin.

Representing the City of Airdrie, Michelle Lock participated as one of the judges. As director of community services, Lock commends the partnership and the project. “It brings Airdrie’s community vision to life,” she says. “The Street Lamp Program leverages a combination of community resources to create an exciting sense of place, an elevated appreciation for artistic expression, and contributes to Airdrie as a vibrant, quality-of-life community.”

One of the major corporate sponsors was Good Earth Café. Owner Becky Diebolt found out about the program due to her role at Good Earth. “I jumped at the opportunity,” she says. “When it comes to the logistics of the arts I don’t really know much, so I chose a whole different variety.”

Good Earth has played a prominent role in the embracement of art within the community, through its showcase of local art groups and performers. “I think art brings the community together, it gives the community something to talk about, it’s curb appeal, and it brightens up our city. Knowing it came from someone in our community says a lot,” says Diebolt. “There are so many different forms of art, whether it’s music or painting or acting, and I feel it can bring a whole wide range of people together, as one way or another people can relate through art.”

“It always means more when you are judged and you get picked,” says local artist Alice Lord. “[With this project] people are becoming more and more aware that there are a lot of talented people in our community.”

Fellow artist Frances Iverson agrees. “I think it is just going to beautify the community and people will take a drive and come down and see all the art,” Iverson says.

Bob Harriman – one of the founding members of the Airdrie Regional ARTS Society, who previously started a similar project in Peachland, B.C. – says he believes the Street Lamp Banner

Program will become very popular and lead to other projects. Harriman’s passion for art began when he was 14 and has continued for the past 65 years. “You get to meet a lot of interesting people and artists,” he says.

All of the artists who have participated in the program are extremely grateful for the opportunity to introduce new art projects and help in beautifying the community they call home, and the street now dubbed “Artists’ Alley” can only continue the legacy of art in the Airdrie community.

Reprinted with permission of airdrielife magazine.