Gary Bender from Bailey Electric secures two art banners on lampposts on Argyle Street on May 20, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Gary Bender from Bailey Electric secures two art banners on lampposts on Argyle Street on May 20, 2021. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Arrowsmith Rotary Club’s ‘paint at home’ banner program a success

Paint In events cancelled due to COVID-19

The Rotary Club of Port Alberni Arrowsmith put out a call to artists, and the artists have answered.

Each year, the Rotary Club holds a “Paint-In” at the Glenwood Centre, where artists of all ages paint banners that will hang up in the Rotary Arts District throughout the summer.

This year, the community Paint-In had to be cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. Volunteers with the Rotary Club were worried that they would have to cancel the banner program entirely.

“We were dead wrong,” said organizer Larry McGifford.

The club put out a call to artists in January, asking for at least 80 interested artists to paint their banners at home in order for the club to go ahead with the program. McGifford said the interest from the community exceeded expectations.

“The response was immediate, it was intense, it was ongoing,” said McGifford. “The response has been phenomenal. We have people lining up for next year already.”

The club ended up with a total of 89 new banners this year, from both new and returning artists.

The program had a few hiccups along the way, said McGifford. The club only has 40 banner stands, so artists had to work in phases. The club also ended up with a bit of a shortage of blank banners, so 26 of them had to be handmade locally.

The very first completed banner was picked up on Feb. 16, and the final one was picked up on May 16.

The paint at home program was a success, said McGifford, all because of the response from local artists. The Rotary Club of Port Alberni Arrowsmith is now in its 12th year of the banner painting program, which allows artists of all ages to showcase their talents and help make Port Alberni a little more colourful.

“It’s more than just painting a banner,” said McGifford. “It’s about the story the banner tells. Every banner has a story.”

At this point, the club isn’t sure what next year’s banner program will look like. The hope, said McGifford, is that a community Paint-In at the Glenwood Centre will be able to happen once again.

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