Williams Lake’s official designation as Mural Capital of the Cariboo Chilcotin has been solidified with the unveiling of new signage by the Williams Lake Central Business Improvement Area at the intersection of Highways 97 and 20.
The move comes after the city officially gave Williams Lake the designation at the request of Arty the Artwalker, Willie Dye, last fall.
“It just keeps growing,” Dye said of the number of murals, now totalling 18. “We will add murals each year, but we also need to take care of them.”
Mural artist Dwayne Davis has been at the helm creating the murals and said they tell the story of the community in the past, present and future.
“Mural work is unique because of the extensive, interactive process used to engage neighbourhood residents and organizations,” Davis said, adding identifying the “canvas” for a mural can happen in a number of ways.
“Sometimes the community helps locate a wall for a project, other times individual groups identify a wall and wait for the right project to come along.”
Angie Delainey chairs the Williams Lake Central Business Improvement Area’s revitalization committee and said the committee is in charge of branding downtown Williams Lake.
“The committee has embraced the Mural Capital of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast brand and this sign is the first physical proof of that decision,” Delainey said.
BIA office and events co-ordinator Kate Lines has a background in social enterprise feasibility plan writing and is currently preparing to write a feasibility plan to ensure the murals are funded and cared for longterm — and that new local artists have the opportunity to contribute to the collection.
“Artist mentorship is part of the plan — as well as merchandizing to help fund the mural program. The BIA’s priority is to invite First Nations artists to create murals in the downtown.”
Murals can be an international draw for tourists, they can celebrate the community, they can create safe spaces for community to gather, they can be used to bring conflicted groups together, Lines said.
“As a downtown brand, murals have tremendous scope.
We can celebrate our mountain biking, our ranching history, our First Nations communities, our immigrant groups, our service groups … we can be everything we already are — and we can celebrate it all under the one slogan: Mural Capital of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast.”