An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE NEW MURAL on the Lansdowne Street parkade was officially christened Friday and it has accomplished something no other piece of public art has done in Kamloops — near-unanimously positive reviews.
But the big question is, was it worth it?
Acting mayor Kathy Sinclair tried to answer that question, saying during the ceremony that arts increase livability, community safety and business.
Is she right? As the former head of the Kamloops Arts Council, Sinclair well knows the stats around the spinoff effects of art.
It would be a big stretch, however, to suggest that a parkade mural — even this one — will result in a tangible increase in business and a boost to the economy. Things just don’t happen that way and I very much doubt Sinclair was trying to suggest it does.
So, there’s no way to calculate what kind of a return Kamloops taxpayers will get on their investment. But that doesn’t diminish its value.
Improving livability and economic investment in a community is a cumulative enterprise. One work of public art is only one small piece. Clean, well-maintained streets and manicured neighbourhoods, plentiful green spaces, graffiti-free buildings, friendly shop keepers, bountiful recreation and cultural opportunities, low crime rates and so much more make communities attractive places to live and invest in.
And everything shouldn’t be measured in monetary terms. Some things are just nice to have because they make us feel good.
So, the new mural is a great addition to the city and will get its share of positive attention but don’t expect the economy to boom because of it.
But, was it worth it? Absolutely.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.