MEDIA RELEASE - Downtown Halifax awards nine placemaking grants


For immediate release

July 11, 2022 – Halifax, NS – Downtown Halifax Business Commission (DHBC) is pleased to announce the nine recipients of the Spring 2022 Gritty to Pretty Placemaking Grant Program. Gritty to Pretty includes four grant streams: Open Grant, Mural Grant, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) Open Grant, and BIPOC Mural Grant. Out of 13 applications, the following were awarded: one Open Grant, five Mural Grants, and three BIPOC Mural Grants. There were no BIPOC Open Grant applications in this round.

"Placemaking projects continue to be important for the revitalization of our Downtown," said Paul MacKinnon, CEO of DHBC. "Murals and art installations help create a more welcoming and vibrant atmosphere, which has become paramount as we welcome back more and more people to the Downtown streets.”

In May 2022, DHBC launched a call for submissions for the spring Gritty to Pretty Placemaking Grant Program. This is the eighth year of the Program, which was developed to award grants for placemaking projects located in Downtown Halifax.

This year, two new grant streams were introduced, the BIPOC Open Grant and BIPOC Mural Grant, to provide financial support to BIPOC artists and art collectives, as well as BIPOC-led, BIPOC-focused, and BIPOC-serving organizations. Recognizing the need to address barriers that BIPOC communities face due to systemic racism, the grants aim to celebrate and showcase more diverse and inclusive public art installations throughout the Downtown core.

The Gritty to Pretty projects contribute to DHBC’s placemaking efforts to help encourage civic pride, support local economies, improve public health, and welcome locals and visitors alike to Downtown Halifax.

The total grant amount awarded was $58,059 with $2,740 awarded to the Open Grant recipient, $33,819 to the Mural Grant recipients, and $21,500 to the BIPOC Mural Grant recipients.

Open Grant recipient

Recipient: Spencer House Senior Centre and Open Studio One (OSO) Planning and Design
Location: Grafton Park
Overview: The project is to refresh and paint six benches in front of the former Halifax Memorial Library with members of Spencer House Senior Centre. The pandemic has made many seniors feel disconnected and isolated from their community. This project is one way to invite and integrate seniors back into the community by giving them an opportunity to create art for the public to enjoy.

Mural Grant recipients

Recipient: Daniel J. Burt
Location: 1580 Grafton Street (parking lot between Pizza Girls/Katch and The Maxwell’s Plum)
Overview: The mural, entitled “Living Space,” represents endless imagination and how the mind can't be confined. It depicts a day dreamer, similar to the thousands of people coming to Halifax to chase their dreams. “Living Space” will feature bold colours, abstract patterns, and a mixture of realism.

Recipient: Drew McSherry
Location: TBD   
Overview: The mural, entitled “The Grey Lady of Halifax,” will be based off a famous local story of a ghost of a young woman – who roams Citadel Hill in a 19th century dress, smelling of roses – mourning the death of her fiancée. The telling of this story in a mural will be part of a greater storytelling tradition that connects our community to the outside world. McSherry’s style often evokes the dark and strange and creates pieces that often depict supernatural entities or mysterious landscapes.

Recipient: John McPartland (ABSEN)
Location: 1326 Barrington Street (Barrington Consulting Group building)
Overview: The concept for “The Sound of Time” is a young woman at the piano in deep concentrated thought about her art. At her feet is a young man who is working studiously on composing his music. And to the left of these two is a young girl observing their creative hustle. McPartland draws inspiration from the relationship with time and growth, the creative sparks we see of older people when we are kids, and how through hard work, we grow up to become the people that we once idolized.

Recipient: Katie Green
Location: TBD
Overview: Green’s mural project, “Multiplicity,” provides a collaborative process that results in a vivid and colourful mural that asks us to pause and consider our own emotional experiences. Through art, Green often develops opportunities for audiences to feel complex emotions we experience. In “Multiplicity,” Green hopes that the viewer will see themselves reflected in the mural and experience an instant of emotional honesty and vulnerability, but also a sense of togetherness.

Recipient: Niamh MacMaster
Location: TBD
Overview: The mural “Selkies” will depict a Selkie mid-transformation, surrounded by a pod of friendly, curious seals. Selkies or “seal-folk” are found in the folklore of different cultures and described as beings that can shapeshift from seal to human form. They are playful, caring creatures, and often appear to save people who have fallen into the ocean. When a Selkie adopts their human form, they assimilate and form bonds with the people ashore. But a Selkie will always long for the sea and cannot stay on land forever. With this piece, MacMaster wants community members to be imbued with a spark of everyday magic.

BIPOC Mural Grant recipients

Recipients: Daramfon Morgan (DCM Art Creations) and Victor Nwaokpani (4IDEBEN)
Location: TBD
Overview: “Halifax in Colour” aims to create and build on the authenticity and solidarity among BIPOC community members. It showcases the respective histories of BIPOC communities and the story of how these communities adapt to thrive in a society that does not primarily represent them. The mural will honour and uplift the legacies, techniques, and style of Black art, as well as acknowledge the role that African Nova Scotians and people from the African Diaspora have played in our understanding of Nova Scotia’s own Black history. The art will be a blend of surrealism, contemporary and motifs that create a stunning and colourful visual display.

Recipients: Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre and Open Studio One (OSO) Planning and Design
Location: Scotia Square (Barrington Street façade)
Overview: The building is in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. The location of the mural, entitled “Our Stories,” will build awareness of the Mi’kmaq history and the land that we all stand on and contribute to community pride. The local indigenous community, mainly youth, will own and be involved with the entire project– beginning with determining the different stories to be told, learning traditional painting styles, and then painting their own original pieces. These pieces will comprise the 15-20 circular murals that will be attached on the exterior wall of Scotia Square.

Recipient: Peatr Thomas
Location: 1580 Grafton Street (parking lot between Pizza Girls/Katch and The Maxwell’s Plum)
Overview: The mural "Mikisew” – meaning “eagle” in the Ininew (Cree) language – will be made up of the Ininew syllabics ‘sah’ ‘kih’ ‘tah', which make the Ininew word for “love.” The syllabics are overlayed with the silhouette of an eagle, which is part of the 7 Sacred Grandfather Teachings and represents love. The mural will also feature the warm and welcoming colours of red, orange, and yellow, as the word “love” should be.

Land Acknowledgement:

Downtown Halifax Business Commission acknowledges that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) Peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1725. The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.

About Downtown Halifax Business Commission (DHBC):

Downtown Halifax Business Commission represents over 1,600 businesses located in the central business district of Halifax, Nova Scotia. DHBC’s mission is to passionately pursue a more prosperous and vibrant Downtown Halifax, through: good development, Downtown mobility, membership services, DHBC leadership, and Downtown placemaking. For more information, visit