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Annual mural festival hopes to give post-COVID BUMP to Calgary neighbourhoods

New murals are coming to Calgary in August.

Despite recent financial setbacks and ongoing concerns around COVID-19, the Beltline Urban Mural Project (BUMP) Festival is set to go on for its fourth year.

Due to COVID-19, the government chose to reallocate an extra $2 million dollars to supporting non-profits and charities working through the crisis. Part of this money came from the project grants available from the Alberta Community Initiative Program, so that funding is no longer available.

Though this is a major loss for the BUMP Festival financially, it plans to roll on for the good of the community.

The formal festival will run from August 26 to 29, with artists starting to paint at the beginning of the month.

“We’re nimble, we’re going to work with the funding we have, and we’re going to put on still the biggest and most exciting festival to date,” said Peter Oliver, President of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association.

“People are really looking for some good news and some excitement.”

With about 20 mural artists involved, this year’s festival will feature the biggest and the “most impressive” line-up in its history.

That list will be released in late June, and those at the festival are having trouble keeping it secret.

Kyle and Derek Simmers work on “Vanitas” as part of the 2019 BUMP Festival. This mural is located at 1302 4 ST SW| HARKIT UPPAL

“I think people are really going to get excited when they see who’s coming,” said Oliver.

After this year, the BUMP festival will have produced over 50 murals in the city since 2017, which is a major milestone.

The BUMP Festival transforms the city

The artwork is slowly transforming the center of Calgary into a “free, open air Art Gallery,” Oliver said.

A map of the murals around Calgary from previous festivals, featured on the BUMP Festival website.

These murals are also good for local businesses. They brighten up an otherwise dull area, and generate more traffic as people come by to take a look.

Now more than ever, Calgary could use a BUMP of beauty in these difficult times.

“It’s kind of like creating a sense of magic and awe on the streets,” Oliver said.

“It’s always amazing, the first time you turn a corner and see a new mural.”

Though the pandemic rages on, this festival hasn’t been affected by it too much. Mural artists are often used to working alone or far apart, as they have such large canvases to cover.

Another part of “To be Seen” by Lacey & Layla, located located at the 1 ST CPR Underpass| EUNICE HAU

Those viewing the process can easily distance themselves from each other and the artist. The artwork can also be seen from many different places.

Oliver hopes that this festival and the artwork produced will lift the spirits in the community.

“In August, things start happening and there’s just this sense of transformation in the city,” he said.

“I think we need that more than ever right now.”