The Ottawa Sun came last weekend and talked with us (Ottawa Urban Arts) about our work. We were a little cautious after some of the negative spin we'd received, but they showed a balanced understanding of some of the issues, and a desire to learn more. The reporter, Tony Spears, wanted to talk about the Paint It Up! program and what projects we had done so far, and their impact. He spent a while with us at the Jules Morin field house wall, part of the Lowertown project we are doing, also was a photographer there for some shots of artists at work. He made a short video too, all here on the article.
It was as a good article, focusing mainly on the positive work we were doing, and of course attracted comments - many negative, some positive. And apparently attracted a few letters to the editor - trash talking us and our past.
We've decided that debating our history is time consuming and a losing battle - our detractors don't seem that interested in facts or any possible positive effects. What is relevant to us - and the program - is the positive impact we know our work is having on the community groups and youth we work with - and we know this from comments in the sessions as well as written feedback after the events. I added a comment to the Sun article to that effect, as follows:
Thanks for the positive coverage of this program. The $50,000, compared to a total police budget of $300 million, is money well spent, spent mainly on supplies by the way, plus a modest youth fee - ee won't get rich from this.
We have had positive feedback from community members, youth program coordinators, and youth themselves. They like both the collaborative design process and the finished murals. In the workshops the youth have learned to express themselves better on their own issues, via the various media we use, and have demonstrated some positive behavioural changes to the concepts and role models we have shown them.
And that's what is really relevant here - positive changes to communities and youth via art.
That's our passion.