Council approves downtown sculpture project

By Chad Ingram

Published March 27 2018

Sculptures will soon be displayed in downtown Haliburton on a rotating basis in a joint project by the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and Haliburton BIA.

Councillors for Dysart et al approved the project during a March 26 meeting.

The sculpture forest is located in Glebe Park attracting thousands of visitors per year.

“We’ve often looked at and discussed about how we could actually have some of that happening downtown in Haliburton as well” sculpture forest curator Jim Blake told council.

Blake explained that a sculpture project in Elora Ont. provided a model  “which seemed to be the answer to how we could make that happen for a reasonable amount of money.”

That project involves publicly installed sculptures which are replaced by a new round of sculptures each year.
“The idea is that it’s really a show it is a six-month sculpture show and they put out a call to artists the artists install their works it’s there for six months” Blake said explaining that after that the sculptures are removed by their creators. “So they keep changing.”

“The artists are paid a small stipend like a show fee that they would get at a gallery and they are responsible for installing it and also taking it away” Blake said. “We would be responsible for actually creating the permanent bases with threaded rods so that they could do that.”

The project in Elora began a decade ago with five display sites which has increased to 20. The idea is to begin with five sites in Haliburton.

“I think it would be pretty easy to think of about a dozen places where you could put sculptures in town but for now we’re going to find five” BIA president Luke Schell told councillors.

While the majority of sites in Elora are located on municipally owned land it will be a different scenario with the Haliburton project.

“In downtown Haliburton there actually isn’t a lot of municipally owned land but there are segments which are part of the public domain but which are privately owned Blake said.”

As Blake explained some of the buildings along Highland Street are set back from the edge of their property lines meaning the space between the sidewalk and businesses is actually privately owned.
Schell has been consulting with business owners about providing space.

One location is on municipally owned property in the area where the cenotaph is located at the intersection of Highland and York streets.

The plan is for sculptures to be mounted from May to October each year. During the half of they year it was suggested the bases could be used for seasonal decorations by the BIA or community groups.
There is potential for each base to be sponsored by businesses or organizations to help with the costs of the project.

An annual call will be put out to artists and submissions will be juried by representatives from the BIA the sculpture forest and Dysart’s cultural resources committee. Submissions from local artists will be encouraged but submissions will be accepted from artists throughout the province and country.

There are plans for a website pamphlet and interactive map. Artists may choose to make their sculptures for sale and insuring the sculptures is the responsibility of the artists.

Liability insurance will be provided under the municipality’s policy for the township-owned site and the sculpture forest’s insurance policy for remaining sites.

Councillor Dennis Casey asked if there’d been any vandalism with the Elora project and Blake responded it has been minimal. Blake also said the organizers of the Elora project are willing to share their knowledge and resources.

To get an idea of what the Elora project is like visit