|WELLAND'S HISTORIC MURALS:
The Birth of an Idea
1986, the people of Welland embarked on a bold, imaginative and ambitious
venture designed to beautify the city; develop a new sense of community
pride; increase tourism and stimulate the local economy.
the time, Welland was experiencing deep economic trouble. With unemployment
and inflation rising, it was vital that Welland find new sectors of economic
growth. In the fall of 1983, a group of concerned Welland residents formed
the "Promote Welland Task Force," a non-profit organization whose mandate
was to bolster the community. After several months of meetings and studies,
the group finally decided that the key to Welland's prosperity lay in tourism
development. The question was "How to attract visitors?"
Answer was discovered by looking westward to Chemainus, British Columbia
on beautiful Vancouver Island. In the early 80's, Chemainus was experiencing
serious economic difficulties. In an effort to create a tourism focus to
replace the town's declining forest products base, one of the local residents
suggested creating large
murals to illustrate the town's logging history. The prospect was that
this project would become a unique attraction to boost Chemainus' stagnating
economy. So successful was the plan that the town became a major tourist
destination with hundreds of thousands of visitors annually injecting millions
of dollars into the local economy.
1986, Mike Allen (a local businessman and the owner of the Seaway Mall)
visited Chemainus, B.C. He was so impressed with the attractive revitalization
and tourism development of the city that he commissioned Welland's first
mural. Naturally enough, it was painted on the Seaway Mall. The Promote
Welland Task Force thus created the Festival of the Arts and the community
captured the mural spirit.
order to continue the murals project, a team of artists was invited to
submit proposals for Welland's murals. The Festival of the Arts used three
criteria for the selection: historical accuracy, architectural suitability
and, above all, artistic merit. The artists were required to complete a
mini-mural, or maquette on a predetermined historical theme. Each artist
was sent a detailed research package containing photographs and information
on the theme. The artists were permitted to enter two mini murals. The
panel adjudicated the resulting works and these became the basis for the
works gracing Welland today.
Virtual Tour of Welland's Giant Murals includes background information
on the individual murals, artist interpretations, guide notes and artist
biographies in addition to photos of each of the murals themselves. The
virtual tour is not intended to replace a physical tour of these incredible
works, but it is instead intended to be an opportunity to take a sneak
peak of Welland's Giant Outdoor Art Gallery.