Download our Information Session FAQ HERE
Includes a message from our team and Board of Directors, Frequently Asked Questions, and information on funding and expenses.
Where can I learn more about each mural and the artist who painted it?
Our digital map contains the location of the murals as well as information about the artwork and the artist
Do you paint over the murals every year? How long will the murals be up?
The average lifespan of a mural ranges from a couple years to decades, depending on location, weather, upkeep and other factors.
The City of Vancouver mandates all murals must stay up for a minimum of two years. Afterwards, some murals may be painted over if necessary, though we intend to keep them up as long as possible.
Part of the power of the medium—especially with graffiti and street art—is the temporary nature of the works which allows them to take advantage of temporary spaces and provides the chance for artists and communities to reuse the same canvases over time.
Who takes care of the murals?
With the help of our official partner Goodbye Graffiti, we work with building owners and businesses to protect, clean, and repair the murals.
Do you do community murals as well?
Yes. VMF helps facilitate and run many community murals including paint by number pieces, culturally engaged murals, Student work, Indigenous youth outreach, and more.
Are all your artists paid?
Yes, all of our artists are paid, including those painting live at the festival. Fees are negotiated based on a combination of typical festival rates, experience, profile, wall size, painting duration, travel, accommodations, and other factors.
Is the festival only in Mount Pleasant? Why Mount Pleasant?
The main festival is in Mount Pleasant because this is where many of our crew and artists live and work. We also found a receptive partner in the Mount Pleasant Business Improvement Association (MPBIA) who supports us with festival planning, funding and relationships in the community.
We have also begun to work on projects in other areas of the city and are looking forward to branching out. We’ve already been given opportunities to work with community stakeholders in the Downtown Eastside and Strathcona.
How can I participate?
Join us as a volunteer! Click the VOLUNTEER button on our Contact Page to get in touch.
Want to be an artist in the festival? The application will be available soon. Keep your eyes on our contact page and social media.
Follow us on social media for updates on the festival and future projects.
When do applications begin?
Applications will be live before the end of 2017. Follow along on our social media accounts and website for more information as it becomes available.
What is your artist selection process?
Our festival curator creates an initial list based on the hundreds of portfolio submissions we receive each year. This list is then reviewed by our our curatorial advisory board, community partners, technical crew, and executive team. Some of the factors under consideration for shortlist include diversity of styles, work that will scale well; what kind of public appeal the piece might have, and the communities, cultural backgrounds and networks they come from.
Do I have to be a Muralist to Apply?
No, you we are interested in showcasing a variety of artistic styles and facilitating artists who don't typically have the chance to work in public space. Styles and mediums we have featured in the past include but aren't limited to muralism, street art, graffiti, fine art, tattoo, animation, illustration, contemporary art, designers, community artists, and more!
Who is on your curatorial advisory board?
- Our 2018 advisory members will be announced after the artist applications have opened.
Do you use local or international artists?
We curate for around 85% local talent. We believe in showcasing the amazing work tucked away in studios, galleries and private collections all over our city and bringing it to the streets! We also bring in a few international touring artists every year to add to the mix. This enhances the experience of our local artists through technical learning and networking, and helps to raise Vancouver’s profile internationally.
What’s the significance of the murals?
Each piece has its own background as we attempt to provide artists with the unique opportunity to tell their stories while making necessary decisions on the work that goes up on the wall.
Do building owners get to choose the designs of the murals on their properties?
No. We do our best to work with building owners and residents early on to find styles of art or artist portfolios that they are excited about, which allows for the selected artists to express themselves as freely as possible on the wall and avoid too much editing on their draft. The property owner does need to give final approval on the design in order for the city permit to proceed. It’s rewarding to introduce different artists, styles and social themes to the property and business owners.
Are there themes or guidelines that muralists need to follow when designing their murals?
Not typically, we don’t have overarching themes, however, in some instances, history, location, etc. can influence the appropriate theme or topic of a mural. This is usually taken into consideration by both the artist and in our initial curation. Otherwise, we simply ask that there is no gratuitous sex, violence, hate, or racism included in the murals as per standard City of Vancouver policies.
How do you choose your walls?
Many businesses and property owners approach VMF directly, but we also reach out if we see a location we're interested in.
We’re looking for walls that have high visibility, accessibility for lifts and artists, and are free of excessive architectural features or barriers, like slopes or power lines. And of course, we like to group the murals so that people can easily enjoy as many as possible on foot, bike or mobility device. There are many factors to consider!
Other artists and community organizers with their own projects can also be included as part of festival if they want to be, and are painting in or around VMF's timeframe and footprint. For more information on this process, please get in touch.
How do you ensure diversity of artists in the festival?
Our team and curators are working hard to support artists from a range of backgrounds, mediums, and experience levels in telling their stories through mural art. Artist portfolio is our primary focus, but we also rely on our community partners and curatorial advisors to help ensure these values are reflected in our final line up. We are very happy to say that in 2017 our artist list included over 45% women, over 45% self-identified minorities, and 15% Indigenous artists.
We strive to represent a wide spectrum of backgrounds and styles by engaging and supporting the development of new mural artists. More than half of our muralists, while very experienced in other mediums, are working on their first mural at the festival.
Moving forward we will deepen this dedication to diversity, both within our own organization and in our growing artist roster. We hope to build partnerships with and bring visibility to under-represented communities in the the arts, including LGBTQ artists, gender-diverse folks, people of colour, people with disabilities, local and land-based First Nations and others.
How is your organization classified?
We are a registered Non-Profit Society under the name: Create Vancouver Society.
Do you partner with any other organizations or events locally?
Our Director of Engagement and the rest of the team invest a lot of time in meeting with community and arts groups in the various neighbourhoods we work in. This helps us to better understand how to collaborate with folks active in their neighbourhoods in order to support of existing goals and programs. This may be a specific project, a part of our festival, or simply donating our space, time, and services. You’ll notice that each booth or event at our festival is meant to showcase dedicated people and organizations who are doing amazing work year round in Vancouver.
A few of the non-profits, independent businesses, arts events, and community organizations we have worked with include: Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, Mount Pleasant Community Centre, Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre, Tradeworks: Women In Trades, Urban Native Youth Association, Night Hoops Youth Basketball Team, Collingwood Crew Community Centre, Lu’ma Native Housing Mentorship Program, Kanata Festival, Reconciliation Canada, Enterprising Women Making Art (ATIRA), Groundwerk, SNAG, Burrard Arts Foundation, Chapel Sound, The Beaumont Studios, Young Artist Warriors, Indigenous Fashion Week, Mount Pleasant Heritage Group, Thrive Art Studio, Downtown Eastside Centre For The Arts, Emily Carr University, Capilano University, PHS Community Services, Culture Saves Lives, The Downtown Eastside Market Society, Vancouver Street Dance Festival, Vancouver Craft Beer Week, and many more.
Do you have a board of directors and/or advisory board?
Create Vancouver Society has a board of directors to help guide the festival and our other our projects throughout the year. We’re currently looking to expand this board and increase its diversity. Please contact us if this is something that interests you.
We also have an advisory board which we are in the process of formalizing. Check back in the next few months to see a full list.
What are your goals for 2018?
Looking forward into 2018 we are eager to continue to refine our processes and increase the diversity of our artists, programming, funding, staff, and more. We will be adding to our core team, formalizing our advisory board, expanding our Board of Directors, and refreshing our curatorial processes and team. We also hope to further develop our programs around destigmatization of graffiti art, creation of public free walls, advocating for culturally sustainable development practices, visibility for marginalized groups, and projects with Indigenous communities including growing our Indigenous youth programs and partnerships with the three local land-based Nations.
Do you produce murals throughout the year?
Yes! Vancouver Mural Festival/Create Vancouver Society operates throughout the year working on auxiliary projects across the Lower Mainland — though it can be tricky to paint in the rain!
What is your relationship to the city in terms of funding?
Create Vancouver Society is an independent grassroots registered non-profit organization.
We have received granted funds from the City Of Vancouver. We also work very closely with Arts & Culture, Film and Special Events, Vancouver Police Department, The Parks Board, Fire Department, City Engineering and City Transportation.
How much funding have you received from City of Vancouver and how is it spent?
From 2016-2017, we received a total of $300,000 from the City of Vancouver's Arts & Culture Department in matching funds via the “Public Art Boost” grant.
We also received approximately $80,000 in reimbursement for paint and supply costs by the city’s existing Mural Support Program via Integrated Graffiti Management Program.
100% of City funds are spent on artist fees, supplies and mural production costs.
What is the Mural Support Program?
The City of Vancouver’s well established Integrated Graffiti Management Program and Mural Support Program include reimbursement of paint and supplies up to $2500 per property to any artist or organization producing a public mural project in Vancouver that is not for commercial purposes. Due to the number of murals we do per year, our funding from the Integrated Graffiti Management Program is $50,000 per year (minus permitting fees). That is less than $1250 per wall.
What is the Public Art Boost?
In mid-2016, Mayor and Council created the Public Art Boost Program injecting $1.8 Million into various public art programs. VMF is one of over 21 innovative new projects and 11 community-led art projects that have been supported by this initiative. For all the details on what was funded, how the Public Art Boost works, and info on all the inspiring projects it has helped, have a look at the council minutes.
How do you fund the festival? / Can you share more about your operating budget?
To help cover costs such as artist fees, equipment rentals, mural and event production, insurance, communications, fabrication, mural maintenance, staff and contractors we source funds through:
Mural Production Contracts throughout the year
We also ask most building owners to consider contributing some funding to any murals being made on their property.
Artist and project costs make up about 60% of our expenses
Granted funds make up less than 40% of incoming funds
What is your approach to reconciliation with Indigenous communities?
- Our festival is held on the traditional unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. As reconciliation is a significant part of our mission in promoting public art and placemaking, we have been working towards building a trusting relationship with First Nations communities. Our process has been to seek out what reconciliation looks like for Indigenous artists, youth groups and Nations and then to build our approach on that.
- In our second year, we have focused our efforts on the creation of new major public works by First Nations artists and on the participation of Indigenous youth through workshops operated by our Indigenous Youth Coordinator, Jeska Slater and her organization, Young Artist Warriors. We have also had enriching opportunities to support inspiring Aboriginal-led events like KANATA Festival and Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. We have also been blessed to support the work of Culture Saves Lives and the Downtown Eastside Centre for the Arts.
- It is vital to our organization that we continue to develop, improve, and refine our work in connection with First Nations communities through guidance and feedback from our increasing list of Indigenous staff, partners, advisors, and beyond. We feel strongly that murals can contribute positively to an Indigenous Visual Sovereignty in Vancouver and they can help to address the cultural erasure of both local land-based nations and Urban Aboriginal cultures across our city.
What is your approach to local First Nations protocols and permissions?
- in regards to the three local nations who have never ceded the land that Vancouver was settled on - We strive to follow appropriate cultural protocol when considering questions of curated content, permission and respectful process and consultation with the indigenous people and their nations.. We see a huge opportunity and responsibility to provide a constructive platform for the conversation around this topic. We rely on our conversations and relationships with Indigenous artists, knowledge keepers and council members who share and teach us these best practices as they evolve.
Do you take money from developers’ mandated Community Amenity Contributions (CAC)?
- As of now, we have not been granted or received any money in connection to a CAC.
Do you work with developers? Why?
- Part of our mandate is to bring people and organizations together around issues impacting arts and culture in Vancouver. This includes working with government of all levels and all parties, community groups, non-profits, businesses, artists, studios, residents and developers who continue to have arguably the most impact on how our neighbourhoods are being shaped.
- We see an opportunity to work with property developers and building owners with the belief that as Vancouver changes, collaboration between many voices is integral in ensuring our neighbourhoods can support, protect, and cultivate a vibrant sense of community, history, culture, and art. By working to make sure there are as many voices as possible working together - we push developers to go far beyond basic amenities that they are required to furnish via CAC's and other negotiated concessions and advocate for meaningful and freely accessible art forms that express the diverse specificity of communities and individuals who call this city home.
I have ideas, feedback, or questions not covered here. Where do I go?
Drop us a line anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org