Mural, mural on the wall ...

JP Smith admiring one of the new murals in Salt River.
JP Smith admiring one of the new murals in Salt River.

A pilot project by the City of Cape Town, aimed at using murals to encourage tourism and create a better understanding of public art, is expected to be completed by the end of June.

This project was reportedly conceptualised after the second annual International Public Arts Festival (IPAF) which took place in Salt River last month. The IPAF was initiated and introduced by Baz-Art, a non-profit organisation dedicated to harnessing the power of art for the benefit of the public.

According to the City’s Mayco member for safety, security and social services, JP Smith, the Arts and Culture Department is building and formalising a partnership with Baz-Art to get the project going in order to create growth opportunities.

The statement says the programme will be launched in partnership with subcouncils and ward councillors, and the murals will be at council-owned facilities in four identified neighbourhoods in the next financial year. This is reportedly a large-scale mural initiative which will soon be expanded into a mural art programme and the development of emerging artists in the near future.

According to the statement, public art has become an important focus and brings cultural, social and economic value to neighbourhoods. It is said that it reflects society and is anticipated to enrich communities.

“As a creative city, we are committed to enabling all forms of public art, as well as nurturing and promoting local artists,” says Smith.

Smith says the main aim is to create awareness of public art, bridge the gap between fine art and street art, and to use it as a medium to educate, uplift and inspire the public. He says the City will be undertaking a large-scale mural project at public housing facilities in all four areas across the City.

“We will prioritise storytelling through murals by commissioning local artists, involving community participation including consultation and collaboration, as well as skills transfer and the development of community-based artists and emerging artists in communities.

“With these murals the City hopes to demonstrate the ways in which art can contribute towards transformation in vulnerable communities, establish a positive and stronger neighbourhood identity, make art more accessible to everyone, and improve our public facilities and spaces,” says Smith.

This will reportedly create a platform for both local and international artists, giving them the opportunity to showcase their stories, skills and styles in real time and on a global platform.

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