Friday, August 21, 2009

Urban art set to liven up Shaw Millennium skate park

Did you know that Calgary has North America’s largest free outdoor 24-hour skate park? It’s Shaw Millennium Park, located on 12 St. and 9 Ave. S.W. (next to TELUS World of Science), and it’s getting a facelift this weekend.

As part of a City pilot program, the internationally acclaimed local urban artist David Brunning, aka The Kid Belo, is getting out the spray paint this Saturday, August 22 to launch a mural going up on the Landmark building, and he’s showing some kids the ropes along the way. He’ll be mentoring and working with kids interested in urban art over the next three months as they add their own flair to the mural – every week will have a new look.

Dawn Ford, program co-ordinator with The City, said they expect up to 100 kids out on Saturday. They were invited to participate through the artist’s extensive volunteer network and The City’s youth groups.

The kids will be given a badge to identify them as artists with the project, and their work will be limited to the Landmark building. The artwork will be monitored by the artist and a peer group so that only the best work gets to stay and to make sure it’s appropriate for the park and its users.

Shaw Millennium Park has 75,000 square feet of skateable surface, basketball courts, laser lights and a festival area with beach volleyball. It’s been open since 2000 and has over 35,000 visitors a year.

And yet it’s still underutilized, said Ford. In surveys, youth who use the park say it’s visually boring, so this project is hoped to draw more in; it’s a way for the users of the park to improve it in a way that’s meaningful to them.

The urban art project will be evaluated in spring 2010, and if it goes well, another might be launched next year.

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