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VMF Winter Arts 2021 Wins IDA Downtown Achievement Award

The VMF Winter Arts 2021 public space project was awarded the IDA Downtown Achievement Award at this year’s conference.

The DVBIA is excited to share that our collaboration with Vancouver Mural Festival, VMF Winter Arts, has received an Achievement Award of Excellence from the Washington, DC-based International Downtown Association (IDA), recognizing excellence in Urban Place Management.

VMF Winter Arts was among 24 qualified entries in the category of Public Space Management and Operations, which IDA identified as one of the seven professional urban place management practice areas. This category features unique organizational approaches and projects in the areas of clean, safe and hospitality, placemaking and activation, and facilities management. Awards of Excellence exceed the jury criteria and denote an excellent response to an industry challenge.

VMF Winter Arts was first conceptualized last summer when social distancing was in full effect, large public gatherings were prohibited, and uncertainty surrounded how to safely activate public spaces during the winter months, when even less was happening in and around downtown Vancouver. Looking for a safe way to activate downtown public spaces and acknowledging that doing nothing was not an option, the DVBIA’s placemaking team and the creative team at the Vancouver Mural Festival put their heads together and came up with VMF Winter Arts, which was Canada’s first free public exhibition of augmented reality.

Blurring the line between the real and virtual worlds, VMF Winter Arts animated 17 public spaces across downtown Vancouver into an open-air gallery featuring 24 augmented reality artworks by local and international artists – including the UK, Japan Vietnam and the US, plus local artists from Vancouver, Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil Waututh. BIPOC artists and curators made up over 50% of the 2021 creative team. By dispersing the artwork across multiple locations and allowing the public to engage with the artwork on their own time and using QR codes at each location, VMF Winter Arts was hugely successful in minimizing large gatherings, encouraging people to safely explore downtown, and connecting people to art and unique experiences in public spaces.

In addition to the DVBIA’s sponsorship and support, VMF Winter Arts was proudly supported and made possible by various local arts and culture organizations as well as downtown property owners. Following the overwhelming success of this year’s festival, work is already underway to bring VMF Winter Arts back for 2022 and expand upon the artwork and locations to allow for an even more immersive art experience in public spaces.

Learn more about VMF Winter Arts and the other IDA Downtown Achievement Award winning projects.