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BUMP 2020: Colouring Calgary streets amid COVID-19

This year’s BUMP Festival is back with 21 new murals to enliven a lacklustre 2020.

Various local, national and international artists will be working on the murals from Aug. 1 to 30, adding pleasant hues to the streets of Calgary in the festival’s fourth year.

“A lot of arts festivals and programs have been put on hold during COVID but we are very lucky that we’re still able to go ahead and paint a lot of murals,” said Peter Oliver, President of Beltline Neighbourhoods Association, the group behind the annual festival.

“We have our biggest lineup yet happening this year so it’s really exciting. I think with people looking for something positive in the city, this is a really great opportunity we have to celebrate something together.”

Usually condensed into four days, BUMP this year has been spread out both in terms of social distancing and across the calendar.

“We’re relying a bit more on online platforms and instead of doing guided tours we are doing self-guided tours,” said Julia Babineau, Outreach Co-ordinator for BUMP.

According to Babineau, another reason for self-guided tours is that in past years the guided tours included as many as 50 people.

“So, we recommend that people that are in their own cohort go and do a tour on their own,” she said.


The BNA has decided to have more events than usual to avoid big crowds.

This time people can enjoy live BUMP-ups at mural sites. BUMP-ups are essentially a mashup of art and music and there will be DJs playing at Central Memorial Park all through the festival.

“People who come can see how a mural transforms, how an artist works, the practices and the techniques and enjoy Beltline Calgary,” said Babineau.

The Beltline Urban Murals Project did not get all the funding they were hoping for during this year.

Luckily, the organization had budgeted for such an occurrence.

“We still want to be able to bring something to the community in Calgary that will bring us together,” said Babineau.

The festival is also going to have artist talks, but this year they will be recorded and made available online.

“So, for people who see a mural and want to learn more, they’ll be able to watch these talks. We are also going to release a lot more on our social media,” she said.

COVID can’t take away the calm and colours

Elena Bushan, a professional visual artist and art instructor from Calgary, feels lucky to have her own wall to paint this year.

She has worked with various artists over the past three years to paint murals in the city.

Bushan plans to adorn the streets of Calgary with Mother Nature this year.

“I am from a warm country and I really want to explore this colour and bring greens and plants to this city,” she said.

According to Bushan, during all these months of COVID-19, it was her plants that made her feel happy and calm each day. She takes care of over 150 plants.

“Even being inside the house I was healed by nature; I want to paint this mural and I hope it will make someone else happier,” she said.

“People who will walk by it and see the beautiful green colours, I hope it will brighten up their day.”

Oliver also mentioned that they are going to hit over 50 murals combined since 2017.

“The prize is that you get to keep the murals,” said Oliver.

“It’s something that leaves a mark on the city years down the road. It doesn’t really finish at the end of the festival because all the murals are still there.”