News Release Archive

Amherst businesses are painting themselves a busier future, using
an image from their past. The huge mural on the north side of the
former Bird's Drapery building is the first in a project designed
to brush up the downtown area.

The mural, depicting the town's celebrations during Old Home Week
in 1910, is a creation of Halifax professional artists Susan
Tooke and Bruce Rickett. They were commissioned by the Amherst
Business Improvement District Commission (ABIDC), to create the
signature mural. 

The ABIDC tapped into the Community Opportunities Fund (COF), an
initiative of Nova Scotia Economic Development and Tourism (EDT),
for the majority of project funding. 

Rhonda Kelly, community development officer for the Cumberland
Regional Economic Development Association (CREDA), said the
project would not have been realized without this funding. "EDT
has been very encouraging and helpful from the onset," said Ms.
Kelly. "Staff from the department have been 100 per cent

COF provides an opportunity for communities and government to
work together on projects that result in lasting benefits as part
of regional community economic development plans. Additional
funding for the project came from local businesses, community
members, the ABIDC, CREDA, and the Chamber of Commerce. 

Ms. Kelly said the ABIDC and its supporting partners saw the
mural project as an opportunity to revitalize the image of the

"It's sort of like a factory. If there is nothing in it, and
nothing to attract people to it, then it doesn't get used. The
same can be said about the downtown area," she said. "It's really
enhancing the image of downtown.  We've seen a remarkable

Beth Munroe, co-owner of Pugsley's Pharmacy Ltd. in downtown
Amherst, said she has noticed more people stopping and coming
into her store since the project started. "Tourists are stopping
left, right and centre," said Ms. Munroe. "I have more customers
from away this year than in other years."

Ms. Munroe recalls visiting the mural project last year when the
image was first being projected on the wall. She said that many
tourists were stopping at the site and asking her questions about
the project. "A lot of people said they would be coming back in a
year or two to see the finished mural," she said. "It's going to
be a boost for the town economically, and I think it will help
make Amherst a nicer place."

She added that local residents have started to comment on the
mural, creating a real sense of community pride and

"If you were to walk down the street you usually see someone with
a camera taking a photograph," said Ms. Munroe. "People are even 
taking the long way around town, just to see the mural progress." 

Ms. Tooke and Mr. Rickett are experienced artists, having created
signature murals throughout Canada and the southern states. The
Amherst mural is their first in Atlantic Canada. "It's been a
really nice change of pace to do one close to home," said Ms.

They have also become part of the attraction at the mural site
having many people stop to inquire about the project. "We've had
some lengthy conversations with tourists, and local residents who
remember some of the town's history," she said.  

The project has grown from Ms. Tooke and Mr. Rickett's signature
mural, to the creation of a mural by a local artist and another
by area school children.  Ms. Tooke said that in her experience,
the creation of other murals definitely provides a boost for

"One mural is great.  But five or six give tourists a reason to
spend more time visiting the town."  More tourists mean more
business, and possibly spin-off jobs surrounding the murals.

The artists will remain in the area to create another mural on
the old Dunlap's Warehouse building.  The new mural will pay
tribute to Amherst's musical heritage, and with Nova Scotia's new
Celebration of Music program, it couldn't be more fitting. 
Production of the new mural is due to start in the fall. 

The official dedication of the Old Home Week mural will take
place over a three-day period, between August 14 and 16. "There
are going to be a variety of activities surrounding the mural,"
said Ms. Kelly.  "Everything from ribbon cutting at the site and
a community picnic, to special demonstrations by local artisans."


Contact: Angela Campbell 
         Economic Development and Tourism

ngr                 August 13, 1997 - 9:25 am