Selkirk, Manitoba – Walk along the streets of Selkirk and you’ll notice a variety of colourful murals painted on the sides of many buildings. These murals tell powerful stories about the community and the people who live here.
The murals are part of an initiative run by the Interlake Art Board (IAB), a not-for-profit incorporated organization run by a volunteer board of six. The IAB’s mandate is to support and strengthen the community through murals and public art.
“Art helps to improve one’s self-esteem, and adds to and improves culture and wellbeing,” says IAB president, Joan English. “It brings people together, changes the streetscape in a positive way, and helps to unify a city.”
A $2,500 grant from Bayer Fund’s Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities Program (CFGC) helped IAB to support local artists in further developing their mural production skills, provide free art workshops for youth, and increase awareness of the IAB. “It was an honour to be nominated for the grant,” says English. “When I told the board, they couldn’t believe it. We are truly grateful.”
English says she believes the grant has had a positive effect not just on the artists involved, but also the community as a whole. “The impact is phenomenal for Selkirk,” she says. “The major economic impact is tourism, which supports local businesses and creates jobs.” English says she would encourage other organizations to go through what she describes as an easy grant application process, as it is a great opportunity to support a community.
Local farmer Leonard Unrau, who grows canola, soybeans, wheat, oats, barley, and corn, says his daughter encouraged him to nominate the IAB after she had a conversation with English. “I like what the Interlake Art Board is doing, so I thought, why not?” he says. “You apply for something like this, and you don’t necessarily expect to win. I thought it was really great. Anytime you get a chance to enhance your community, it’s a good thing.”
Unrau says he believes other farmers should consider nominating organizations for the grant because the process is easy and worthwhile, especially for farmers who might be too busy to volunteer or get involved in other ways.