The Social Practice of Public Art and Community Design
Jul. 07, 2015

The Social Practice of Public Art and Community Design Emily Carr University partners with Ampri Group, the City of Richmond, and Stantec to develop new ways of creating public spaces

Vancouver, CAN, July 7, 2015  | At the start of 2015, several unexpected partners came together to create a new project between business, academia and community, reinventing the way public spaces are considered and created in the Lower Mainland.

Amit Sandhu, Chief Executive Officer, Ampri Real Estate Development Group, saw an opportunity to do more than just create a public art piece for his company’s new Richmond development. Thinking of ways to engage the community, Mr. Sandhu contacted Dr. Cameron Cartiere, Associate Professor, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, who specializes in public art and community engagement. From there, the conversation expanded to include Eric Fiss, Public Art Planner, City of Richmond and Jon Steil, Community Planning Consultant, Stantec.

The group came together to challenge the way public art is shaped, resulting in the development of a new course, The Social Practice of Public Art and Community Design,  housed within Emily Carr’s Faculty of Culture + Community. “The course came about from a need. There is a huge gap in the way that young artists or emerging artists can enter the field of public art,” says Dr. Cameron Cartiere, Associate Professor, Emily Carr University.

Students gained an insider’s view of how public art is both selected and created, providing them with valuable insight and hands-on experience that revealed the integral role collaboration and community investment plays in the creation of public spaces. The class liaised with city departments, landscape architects, public art experts, environmental biologists, historians, and public artists to create a detailed and inspiring plan, which has become the integral document for the site’s public art call.

“We believe that public art is just one of those things that contribute to better neighbourhoods, better communities, and we’re glad to be part of that process,” says Jon Steil, Stantec.

“Public art is not only a benefit to the community in the way that it can engage people, but also an opportunity to benefit local artists, create new relationships and provide educational outlets through programs,” says Eric Fiss, City of Richmond.

Amit Sandhu, Ampri Group, concurs, “This collaboration was a great example of how a diverse group of professionals can work together and leverage their expertise to create a win for the community – in this case, creating opportunities for emerging artists.”

Sharad Kharé, video producer and storyteller, was engaged by Ampri Group to join the team to document and capture the unfolding of this unique partnership. The documentary captures the scope of the project and makes available to a broader audience, the various levels of collaboration and diversity. “Watching and capturing this unique and dynamic collaboration on my lens was such a pleasure,” says Sharad Kharé, Kharé Communications. “The students and stakeholders shared so much about their journey and it will reflect on the legacy of their work individually and collectively.”

Through unlikely partners, collaborative and innovative thinking has developed a new distinctive model of learning now documented for future students, businesses and cities to review and re-evaluate the ways in which public spaces and public artwork can be created.

Stakeholders will be organizing full screenings of the documentary this Fall to share their unique approach and experiences in tackling public art projects. View the Video Treatment trailer.

About Emily Carr University of Art + Design
Emily Carr University of Art + Design, established in 1925, is a world leader in education and research. Encouraging experimentation at the intersection of art, design, media and technology, our learning community merges research, critical theory and studio practice in an interdisciplinary environment. Alumni and faculty are internationally recognized as award-winning creators and thought leaders who have enormous impact on both the cultural sector and economy. We engage students, industry, and society to continuously explore and think differently about creativity and how it shapes our world.

Emily Carr is building a state-of-the art campus for 21st century learning at Great Northern Way. The University will be at the centre of a new social, cultural, educational, and economic engine for British Columbia. Find out more at

CREATIVITY IS OUR GREATEST NATURAL RESOURCE | Help build our new campus at Great Northern Way and empower the big ideas that will transform our world to come.

Copyright © 2015 Emily Carr University of Art + Design, All rights reserved.


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