Public Art Program
Region of Waterloo Public Art Program
The Region of Waterloo Public Art Program (and Public Art Policy) was approved in 2002 following discussions during the construction of several major Regional buildings. Regional Council agreed that public art enhances the positive perception of a community and raises its cultural profile.
A Public Art Reserve Fund was created. Money is allocated annually at the discretion of Regional Council. There is also a budgeted allocation from designated capital projects.
Public art considered for purchase and display must meet these criteria:
- aesthetic, historic or commemorative objects
- high quality and unique
- paintings, sketches, drawings, photographs, sculptures, carvings, metalwork, murals, crests, quilts, tapestries, special architectural and landscaping features
Note: Public art does not include plaques, or museum or archival collections which may be displayed in public places from time to time.
Public Art Advisory Committee
The Region's Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC) was established in 2002 to administer the Region's Public Art Program. Information on PAAC membership and Committee's agendas and minutes are available online.
ION Public Art Project
On Februrary 23, 2017, Regional Council approved the artwork selections for the ION Public Art Project. These public art projects will create unique and creative spaces along the ION light rail transit route. Please visit regionofwaterloo.ca/rapidtransit or rideion.ca for information on the ION rapid transit project.
The following 10 public artworks are being commissioned by the Region. For more details, check out the artwork descriptions:
- Continuum by Catherine Paleczny at Conestoga
- Network by Ken Hall at Research and Technology
- Spinal Column by Sandra Dunn at Grand River Hospital
- Because Cats Can't Fly by Veronica and Edwin Dam de Nogales at Kitchener Market
- Tall Tales of Mill Street by Terry O'Neill and Tara Cooper at Mill
- Three Sisters by Katharine Harvey and Lindsey Lickers at Block Line
- Shaping Residency by Stephen Cruise at Fairway
Three additional artworks will also be installed along the ION route:
- The Passenger by Brandon Vickerd as part of the Research and Technology Stop Improvements
- Arras by Lauren Judge and Elana Chand as part of the Fairway Transit Driver's Facility
- Fabric of Place by Lilly Otasevic as a barrier enhancement in a pedestrian area
The chosen artworks were selected using the Region's two-stage juried process. Since this project was a key opportunity for community building along the ION route, the yearlong artwork selection process was enhanced with more community involvement. In the fall of 2015, the Region undertook a broad community consultation process which provided a foundation for the Call to Artists which was issued in early 2016. In response to the Call, the Region received over 60 high quality proposals from over 40 artists. The expanded jury met in July and, with input from community stakeholders and Regional staff, shortlisted 15 proposals to move on to the second stage of the selection process. The final round of public input, on the detailed proposals from the shortlisted artists, saw over 2,070 comments in three weeks. These comments were provided to the jury, which met in December to select the final artworks to recommend to Regional Council.
The first seven artworks will be created and installed to be ready for the opening of ION in 2018. The three additional artworks will be created and incorporated based on the timing of the specific projects.
Cambridge Centre Transit Terminal Public Art
On March 22, 2016, Regional Council approved the commissioning of Pin Art by Ken Hall for the Cambridge Centre Transit Terminal (381 Hespeler Road, Cambridge). This artwork will add pleasure and interest to the transit rider experience, and will enhance the character of the public space.
As explained by artist Ken Hall, "Pin Art invites transit users and members of the community to interact with their environment and to communicate with each other through creative self expression. Part retro-nostalgia, and part celebration of the technical innovation that abounds in Waterloo Region, Pin Art is fully accessible to all ages and abilities, and is a great way for the community to experience art through the universal medium of play, providing positive community engagement." Pin Art will be commissioned and incorporated into the terminal as part of the ongoing construction project.
A public art project is also being planned for the Ainslie Street transit terminal. More details will follow once they are available.
Former County Courthouse Public Art
On Sept. 30, 2014, Council approved the commissioning of Past|Present|Future by Ernest Daetwyler for installation at the Former County Courthouse, 20 Weber St., Kitchener. The proposed artwork is a series of seven spheres of different materials relating to evolution and the passage of time. The piece makes a strong artistic statement in line with the project theme, which is evolution of the site and of Regional government and complements the site including the historically significant courthouse building and adjacent Governor's House and Gaol. People will be encouraged to visit the site to both engage with the artwork and to enjoy the public space. The artwork will be located on the Queen Street side of the property adjacent to the Ontario Heritage Trust historic plaques, and be installed in 2016.
How Public Art is Selected
The Public Art Advisory Committee appoints a jury to solicit proposals from the art community for a particular Regional site. Jury members, keeping in mind the unique characteristics of that site, judge submissions, choose the most appropriate and recommend it to the advisory committee.
The advisory committee, in turn, recommends an allocation of money from the Region's Public Art Reserve Fund for the art. The final decision is made by Regional Council.
The Public Art Advisory Committee comprises:
- One (or two) Regional Councillors
- Four community representatives representing the arts, education and the general public
- A Community Service's Division representative
- A Facilities Management Division representative
Maintenance of public artwork is financed by the facility where it is displayed. One-time costs for restoration or refurbishment of artwork are covered by the Public Art Reserve Fund.
Public Art on Display
Discover Extraordinary Spaces, a series of brochures that outline public art and locations across Waterloo Region:
The map below shows where Region of Waterloo public artwork is located. You can also view this information in the Regional public art summary (PDF).
View Region of Waterloo Public Art in a larger map
Online Interactive Public Art
The solar Collector public art installation celebrates the Region's commitment to energy efficiency. The sculpture contains 12 shimmering metal shafts that rise from different angles on the grassy hill in front of the Region's Operations Centre. The solar-powered and interactive installation gathers energy from the sun during the day to light up at night. Members of the public can view and even choreograph nightly light performances online at solarcollector.ca.
For more information, contact:
Kate Hagerman, Cultural Heritage Specialist