The Banner Project by Louise Ferguson

The Fernie Banner Project highlights the diversity of the artistic community of the Elk Valley and brings Fernie’s downtown to life, celebrating the imagery and identity of the city. The banners feature local artwork in a variety of mediums with local residents submitting their work to be selected by an independent jury. This project is open to all ages and abilities which is an amazing opportunity for your artwork to be featured in public. The Fernie banners are hung in historic downtown and on the highway, displaying beautiful artwork for all to enjoy.

The Fernie Banner Project began in 2005 when Linda Hide approached the City of Fernie with her proposal. The project was accepted and remains much the same today, as it was then, with a lot of involvement from The Arts Station. In 2005 there were 32 banners; today there are 39. The first year, artists submitted their original art pieces and Kevin McIsaac took photos in the Arts Station theatre. After that, artists submitted their work on memory sticks. In 2020, The Arts Station took on the full administration of the project with operational support of putting the banners up by the City of Fernie (Thank you!) This saw the introduction of online applications, which was perfect timing, as during the entry period The Arts Station building was shut due to the pandemic. The new online format worked wonderfully to ensure the project could still go ahead! We were very impressed by all the local residents, both young and old, who were able to adjust to this new way of applying with very little help. Online tutorials via our Youtube channel assisted in the process as well as a teen workshop led by local artist Tara Higgins, and the Fernie Youth Action Network. We had a tremendous number of applications in 2020 with the youngest being five years old and many teens making the final 39. Next year we have plans to introduce a youth category so that our budding artists get a better opportunity to have their banners selected.

The banners are available for sponsorship at the launch every year when they are shown to the public for the first time, normally in the Station theatre, before being hung downtown. After the two years on display the sponsor then gets to keep the banner as long as it survives the two years in the Fernie elements, at least one always has to be fished from the Elk River! The Fernie community is always wonderful at collecting any rogues and returning them to us. They look wonderful displayed in a garden or poolside, or even indoors. For 2020 we could not have an in person launch, again due to the pandemic, so instead we featured them on our website where they could also be sponsored. The last few years we have had a People’s Choice for the community to select their favourite, this year Tyra Collombin was the winner!

The project has been so successful over the years there hasn’t been a need to change much and we are often asked from other communities how it is done. Massive thank you to Donna Miller and the rest of the Banner committee who has ensured that the project continues year after year, the City of Fernie for their support as well as the community for submitting their artwork and sponsoring banners. Visit theartsstation.com to sponsor a 2020 banner… there are only a few left!