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Artists in Communities program

Artists in Communities program at Trout Lake Community Centre

Building community by making art together

The Artists in Communities program:

  • Supports artists working in community contexts
  • Encourages the development of a wide variety of interactions between artists and community members
  • Provides a framework for creative collaboration between artists and communities
  • Encourages and supports artistic projects that leave a physical and social legacy in the community where members create art and learn new creative processes and skills

The program uses community-engaged arts practices to:

  • Make our communities more vibrant
  • Inspire participation and relationship-building
  • Engage communities and people – even those who don't see themselves as artists – as creators, producers, performers, and active audiences

2015 Artists in Communities programs

The Vancouver Park Board is pleased to announce the artists chosen for the 2015 Artists in Communities programs at Dunbar, Mount Pleasant, Thunderbird, and Trout Lake community centres.

Working Holiday project

Dunbar Community Artist webA socially oriented art project that aims to engage the Dunbar community in a collaborative exploration into what constitutes a holiday.

Artists Elisa Yon, Leah Weinstein, and Jaspal Marwah bring a diverse range of art practices in: sculpture, textiles, crafts, performance, site specific installations, socially engaged art, and architecture. Over the course of the fall, winter, spring, and summer, the artists will present a series of "season specific" art interventions, in response to traditional holidays as well as everyday self-made holidays. 

Hands-on crafting activities, artist walks, participatory art installations, pop-up interventions, and food based collaborations are just some of the ways the artists will engage community members in a collective reimagining of what constitutes a holiday.

UpCYCLEd Stories

UpCYCLEd storiesA community bike musical at Mount Pleasant.

Join filmmaker, musician, artist, and Emily Carr University instructor, Sarah Van Borek, in the creation of a unique, 3-part movie that has music and dance components and that tells the story of the Mount Pleasant community using a focus on bikes and cycling as artistic inspiration, art materials (recycled bike parts), and public presentations.

Mount Pleasant community members of all ages, backgrounds, and skill levels are invited to explore their neighbourhood while contributing to various aspects of the project, including: storytelling, video/animation, music, dance, and sound. The project will be presented to the public in 4 stages, each at a bike pedal-powered pop-up projection nearby the Mount Pleasant Community Centre.

This project will begin in September 2015 and end with a celebration and premiere screening of the final movie at an outdoor "bike-in" the following September.

Free Imagination

Free ImaginationAn art project that invites and unites the Thunderbird Community in the creation of a mural that will inspire and celebrate imagination.

The goal of the project is to engage with residents, young and old, and be part of a creative process through participation, informational sessions, and painting workshops. Emily Gray is a muralist and art instructor who is passionate about inspiring individuals and communities. When we are all together making beautiful things life is beautiful.

Emily Gray creates dynamic compositions that allow viewers to flow through the paintings and experience art on a larger scale. With simple and effective application of paint a space can be transformed. The creative possibilities are endless when we connect and set free our imaginations.

Magic Trout Imaginarium

Magic Trout ImaginariumA project based out of the Tiny Community Center; the first 'tiny house' ever used as a community classroom and artist residency.

As a curiosity cabinet with a modern twist, artists Zee Kesler, Emily Smith, and Françoise Thibault  will explore art making as a means of self expression in order to create a new understanding and appreciation of Trout Lake's natural ecology, environment, and neighbourhood as a place of wonder and inspiration.

Previous programs


The Artists in Communities program is based on partnerships between community centre associations and the Vancouver Park Board.

Each year, several interested community centres host an Artist in Communities program.

Community centres create community profiles that outline the issues and interests of their community. Artists respond to one or more of the community profiles to develop their project proposal for each centre.

The Park Board and sponsoring community associations review each application and award the programs to artists. Each program offers artist fees and material fees, funded by the Vancouver Park Board and community centre associations.

Selected artists or artist teams begin their work at the host community centre. Artists work with Park Board arts and culture staff, community centre staff, community members, and community partners throughout this cooperative and creative process. 

The program is not a live-in residency. It is open only to artists who live, work, and have a permanent residence in Metro Vancouver.

Ways artists engage the community

To generate interest, feedback, and participation from members of the community in the creative process, artists can:

  • Work with their community centre programmer to attract user groups
  • Present their project at special events hosted at the community centre or connect to existing programming, cultural celebrations, or events already happening around the community
  • Develop promotional materials that describe their project and workshop, or include their workshop details and description in the community centre’s brochure
  • Use and regularly update a bulletin board at the community centre
  • Develop a blog dedicated to the project (see past blog examples in the Announcements tab, under previous programs.)
  • Set-up a studio space in the community centre lobby
  • Connect with local schools, libraries, and other community organizations to increase involvement
  • Invite the community to celebrate their accomplishments

Each Artists in Communities program is a team effort involving the Vancouver Park Board, community centre associations, and artists. Each team member plays an important role in the program.

The Vancouver Park Board community arts programmer's role

  1. Post the artist call, develops the jury process, and ensures completion of the program contract
  2. Consult with centre programmer and artists to develop their community cultural development plan
  3. Provide support throughout the project
  4. Problem-solve and liaise with other Park Board staff and artists as needed
  5. Provide partial funding for each residency
  6. Post a short description of each project and link to the project blog on the vancouver.ca website
  7. Share joint copyright of the project with the Vancouver Park Board, City of Vancouver, and community centre association

The community centre association's role

  1. Participate in the artist selection process
  2. Provide a lead staff person as primary support for the artist, ensuring that all staff and board members are updated and aware of the project
  3. Book spaces and related permits as needed by artist (like dance studios, multipurpose rooms, community centre lobbies)
  4. Consult with the community centre programmer and artists to develop their community cultural development plan
  5. Assist with promotion, including posters, social media, bulletin boards, and more
  6. Create opportunities for community networking and access through schools and user groups
  7. Provide materials and equipment when available, including photocopies, Wi-Fi, and more
  8. Provide partial funding for residency
  9. Manage the financial administration of the residency

The artist's role

  1. Establish a presence at the community centre and in the community for 300 hours
  2. Develop a program framework based on a community consultation process
  3. Provide regular update on the project process to the community centre programmer
  4. Consult with the community centre programmer and community arts programmer to develop their community cultural development plan
  5. Develop a project the can be completed using the agreed-upon artist’s fee and materials budget
  6. Work with Park Board staff to plan for permanent installation of their artwork and provides a maintenance plan for the installation
  7. Develop and maintains a project blog, and is responsible for ethical documentation
  8. Complete the project within one year, providing a final report by December 2016

Selecting artists for the Artist in Communities programs is a challenging process that involves two stages:

  1. Initial review of applications
  2. Applicant interviews and final selection

Initial review of applications

During this stage, juries made up of arts professionals and community centre representatives (with Park Board staff as advisors) review and discuss each application. Each jury creates a short list of artists who meet the criteria for the program and whose proposals directly relate to the issues and interests outlined in the community profiles for the program.

The initial review is based on the following criteria:

  • Artistic merit and experience in relevant disciplines
  • Experience, inventiveness, and attitude about working collaboratively with community members
  • Knowledge and skills required to facilitate, coordinate, and administrate the program
  • Interest in the issues outlined in the community profile

Applicant interviews and final selection

Community association representatives and community centre staff interview each applicant on the short list and award the program to an artist or an artist team.

The final selection is based on the following criteria:

  • The artist proposal and how it complements the community centre profiles
  • The demonstration of new and creative ways to approach community engagement as it relates to the community profile

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Contact a community arts programmer

Cyndy Chwelos


Lorrie Wager


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Integral to everyday life

Download the Vancouver Park Board Arts Policy

Read our mandate, vision, values, and policy statements around the arts.

Vancouver Park Board
Arts Policy

Last modified: Wed, 11 Mar 2015 11:22:55