by Lacey J. Heels
The greater Waterloo Region has undergone change, transformation and growth over the years which has led to diverse expansion both economically and culturally. Anyone who lives here or visits can feel that there is something special happening … but what is it? There are many factors, but one area that is enriching the scene, building character and bringing about a strong sense of community is public art and cultural events. If you are curious about what this phenomenon or movement is, we refer to it as creative place-making.
Creative place-making is all about leveraging the power of art, culture and creativity to not only showcase the character and quality of place, but to serve and unify the community.
We can see this at play all over the region in various ways. It’s more than just something pretty to look at. Public art and events act as a mirror of the times, a place to go to get inspired, experience joy, to find a sense of belonging, to go on a date, spend time with friends, spark deep discussions, to feel enlightened or even just a great place to take a photo for the ‘gram’. When we break it all down, is all about sharing and connecting and feeling a sense of togetherness – it is a movement and each work of art, creative space or event acts as an agent for change, betterment, and revitalization of our shared community.
If you aren’t familiar with some of Waterloo Region’s public art, installments or events, we’ve curated a shortlist for you to go on an adventure and check out during the summer months (when the city comes to life)!
Public art is everywhere you look in the region, and there are no signs of it stopping anytime soon. Here are just a few examples of the numerous public art installments you can find all over the city.
- Goudies Lane – Murals in Downtown Kitchener
- Nicole Beno’s #MARKETWALKDTK street mural
- Pride Crosswalk Street Mural by Victoria Park, Kitchener
- Past, Present and Future Sculpture Installation by Ernest Daetwyler
- Mennonite Life in St. Jacobs Mural
- Timothy Schmalz art installations (Veterans Memorial, Protecting the Memory)
- Leap of Faith sculpture in Wilmot Township
- Pamela Rojas Canada Seasons outdoor mural
- Cambridge Public Art (including the light shows at The Old Post Office)
- The Solar Collector Sculpture – Region of Waterloo Operations Centre, 100 Maple Grove Rd., Cambridge
- ION Public Art
- Trisha Abe’s Mural in Downtown Kitchener
Public spaces and initiatives that put art and culture at the forefront are also plentiful in the region, here are a couple that help to highlight the general outlook of taking ownership in shaping our beautiful spaces, but also recognizing all those that contribute to making the community what it is, together.
- Love My Hood – A invitation and guide to great neighborhoods
- CAFKA – Recognize Everyone
We are so lucky to have such a diverse festival scene in the region. There are many festivals to attend that focus on art, culture, music and food for all ages, which bring the region to life in the summer!
- Sun Life Financial UpTown Waterloo Jazz Festival
- Kultrun World Music Festival
- Cambridge Scottish Festival
- TD Kitchener Blues Festival
- Sun Life Financial Waterloo Busker Carnival
- Bestival (Belmont Village Festival)
- Lumen Festival “Where Light, Tech and Art Meet”
- List of more festivals and events here
Although there are many more examples of public art, initiatives and events we could list, these are just a few that bring such vibrancy and cultural richness to the region.
“I think the art and spaces we are shaping in the region is not only a reflection of what we care about, but a statement of why we choose to live in Kitchener- Waterloo. It’s what makes us feel at home and connects us.” – Local Resident
The artists, decision makers and community members are creating a place for togetherness, discussion and discovery. And there are numerous artists and organizations taking the charge on seeing more of this in our region. It certainly is a wonderful time to live in Waterloo Region.