Gary Bender from Bailey Electric secures two art banners on lampposts at Argyle Street and Sixth Avenue in May 2020. Despite a delay due to COVID-19 measures, the Rotary Club of Port Alberni-Arrowsmith was able to collect and put up half of the art banners it usually does in the Rotary Arts District. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Rotary Arts District banner program switches to ‘paint at home’ for 2021

Arrowsmith Rotary Club needs 80 registrations to go ahead this year

The Rotary Club of Port Alberni Arrowsmith is still hoping to decorate the Rotary Arts District on Argyle Street with colourful painted banners. However, because of COVID-19, this year’s banner painting program will be a “Paint at Home” event.

Last year, the novel coronavirus pandemic interrupted the second part of the banner painting program, which sees school classes, care homes and other organizations create the second half of the banners.

This year, the first half of the banner painting program—a community “Paint In” at the Glenwood Centre—had to be cancelled.

“We had Glenwood Centre all booked, we had a COVID plan in place,” said McGifford. “We were optimistic that we would be moving ahead this year.”

However, new COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in November, suspending social gatherings and events. These restrictions have been extended to early February—which means banner painting at the Glenwood Centre will not be taking place.

“For the first time ever, it will be all paint at home,” said Larry McGifford of the Arrowsmith Rotary Club. “We’re having to put the details of that program in place sooner than we anticipated.”

Interested members of the public can send an email to to ask any questions or to make arrangements for a banner. Painting supplies, a banner and a stand will be delivered to interested households using contactless, curbside pickup. Banners have to be completed by the end of April so they can be ready to hang up in May.

Because of the additional time and effort on the part of Rotary volunteers, the cost of registration is being increased to $15 (compared to $10 last year).

McGifford said he is not sure how the public will receive the program. If there are not enough applicants, it will have to be cancelled, he explained. The club needs at least 80 banners in order to cover all the light standards in the Rotary Arts District.

“We had no idea what interest would be there,” said McGifford. “But we’re already getting expressions of interest from artists out in the community.”

McGifford said much of this interest comes from volunteers who helped out with the Rotary Club’s community mural project, painted at the entrance to Harbour Quay last year.

“We think it’s important as a Rotary Club to make every attempt to do banner painting this year,” said McGifford. “We did not anticipate taking a year off. We want to carry on, especially on the heels of the mural that we’ve heard so many great things about. We’re a small Rotary Club, but we’ll try to do the best we can.”

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