WHAT BRIGHTONS YOUR DAY?
( no, that is not a spelling mistake )
When walking in downtown Brighton this summer, you will notice banners hanging from lamp-posts displaying the art of Brighton elementary students. “What Brightons Your Day” is the theme of this year’s student banner project. The Board of Directors of the Brian Todd Memorial Community Fund reached out to Brighton’s elementary school students to find out what cheers them up – and in this prolonged pandemic, we can all use a bit of cheering up ! Over two hundred and twenty students submitted artwork – more than double the number of entries received last year. Sixty of these submissions were selected by a panel of local artists to be produced on banners . Another forty are displayed on panels in Casey’s Lane. Now in its third year, this BTMCF/Brighton DBIA/Municipality of Brighton partnership is gaining in popularity.
Here are some artistic expressions of what Brighton students say “Brightons” their day :
Lily ( Grade 6 ) says it is her family, friends and pets;
Some, like Emma ( Grade 5 ), Wyatt ( Grade 6 ) and Charleigh ( Grade 7 ) are a little more pet-specific, drawing images of their hamster, their dog and their cat;
Rhys ( Grade 8 ) gets his joy from playing video games;
According to Ava ( Grade 2 ) “Music is the answer to everything”;
For Noah ( Grade 6 ) it is attending races at the Brighton Speedway;
Having an ice cream cheers up Ella ( Grade 8 ) and Benson ( Grade 2 ); and
Enrique ( Grade 1 ) says it most powerfully – “Being kind Brightons my day !”
What happens to the original 100 pieces of artwork ? They are taken to Applewood Lodge and Maplewood Nursing Home to be shared with, and enjoyed by residents.
BTMCF Director Pamela Vanderburg gets a real kick out of working on this project. “There is so much joy and pleasure on so many levels; the students and their family and peers who see the art displayed, our tourists, our community and our nursing home residents. It’s the art that keeps on giving.” Teachers are inspired as well. Says Brighton Public School teacher Nadine Romard, “ This provides our students with the opportunity to “see themselves” within our community. I believe that this is a simple, yet important visual that celebrates our youth and their connection to Brighton, our wonderful town !”. And local artist Ron Waddling is impressed by the “natural flair” that is revealed in the students’ art, and ponders the “deeper meaning” of their work. Who knows, perhaps a future famous artist will evolve from simple beginnings on a Brighton lamp- post !
The Student Banner Project is becoming a tradition! It is now in its second consecutive year in Brighton and has expanded this year to include Smithfield. The project is sponsored by the Brian Todd Memorial Community Fund in cooperation with the Municipality of Brighton and with the support of the Downtown Brighton DBIA. It features student artwork from three local elementary schools: Brighton Public School, Smithfield Public School and Spring Valley Public School.
Brighton Mayor, Brian Ostrander was very supportive of the project stating: “The Municipality of Brighton supports our youth and youth initiatives, as much as we are able. The Brian Todd Memorial Community Fund has done another incredible job this year of creating banners that show the art and artistry of our young people in Brighton and I am pleased that Council has supported the initiative by having them installed along the well-travelled roadways. Congratulations to our young artists and the Brian Todd Memorial Community Fund for your hard work and dedication to this youth initiative.”
This year’s theme acknowledges the impacts of the COVID19 pandemic. Students were asked to create artwork to describe how the past year has impacted them and visually respond to the questions, “What do you value? And What have you learned?”. The various interpretations of these questions through art illustrates that young people can appreciate the important aspect of their lives, even though it is not always easy. As BTMCF board member Sherry Hamilton points out, “This project is an inspiration that profiles the creativity of our young people and helps them to recognize themselves as an integral part of our community. This contributes to a healthy community in many ways.”
The success of this venture is certainly a community effort and well worth it. When BTMCF Director Bruce Davis saw student artwork displayed on street banners in Digby, Nova Scotia, he thought that the idea should be “borrowed” for Brighton. Two board members, Sherry Hamilton and Pamela Vanderburg designed the contest and offered it to the local schools. The contest starts in January and concludes mid-March, at which time a group of local artists, Angela Young, Ron Waddling, and Lynn VanderHerberg, select the artwork to be featured. Willow Publishing then creates the banners. The cost of the banners is covered by the Brian Todd Memorial Community Fund, the hardware by the Downtown Brighton DBIA, and the Municipality, in consultation with BTMCF Director Wayne Jefferson, does the installation – a truly collaborative project!
As displayed on the banners, residents of Brighton have much to be grateful for: family, friends, our frontline workers, our parks and green spaces, our pets and even the local wildlife. As Sarah Hilwerda, President of the Downtown Brighton DBIA, says, “This project is the perfect example of inclusion. Every time someone looks at a banner and sees local artwork from a “little one”, it connects us. Not just as humans but as a community. That is what community means to Brighton.”
The banners will be on display throughout the Brighton downtown area and Smithfield for the 2021 summer season. In addition to the banners, panels displaying all 60 pieces of student artwork has been added to Casey’s Lane in downtown Brighton and will serve as a more permanent display for people to enjoy. It is hoped that both residents and visitors to our area enjoy this year’s art installation. The original artwork was donated to local care homes where residents may also enjoy the images.
NEW IN 2020 – STUDENT BANNER PROJECT
The Board of Directors of the Brian Todd Memorial Community Fund introduced a banner art project in all of Brighton’s elementary schools ( Brighton PS, Smithfield PS, and Spring Valley PS ). Students were asked to submit drawings that illustrated aspects of Brighton as seen through their eyes. 116 submissions were received and, with the help of several local artists, all 116 of these submissions were copied onto banner fabric. The Downtown Business Improvement Area members purchased new hardware for 23 downtown lampposts, and these banners will hang in downtown Brighton over the summer and early fall period. The Brian Todd Memorial Community Fund will continue this initiative in future years.