Community Collaboration

ARTonBOXES Program: Group of Seven REMIXED pilot

Submitted ByCity of Vaughan


  • The City of Vaughan leverages the power of Public Art as a dynamic placemaking catalyst to drive a transformative, ambitious, and purpose-driven agenda that shapes and reflects the City’s unique identity and economic vitality by delivering innovative, signature visual art initiatives to profile Vaughan as a progressive, creative urban city.
  • Vaughan’s Economic Development department launched the City-wide ARTonBOXES program through the Group of Seven REMIXED pilot project, unveiling art commissioned to animate the City’s public realm. Aligned with best practice, the program transforms drab traffic control cabinets located at prominent signalized intersections across all five wards of the city with original art, digitally translated into designs applied as vinyl wraps. The boxes provide art canvases to enhance the creative urban character of Vaughan’s neighborhoods, beautify city streetscapes, and discourage “tagging” vandalism.
  • The pilot is a cross-jurisdictional municipal | regional government | regional school board collaboration to engage and mentor Vaughan’s regional specialty visual art secondary students in the ARTonBOXES program. A municipal partnership with the Regional Municipality of York executed a Memorandum of Understanding for wrapping regional traffic boxes with art at signalized intersections in Vaughan.

Effectiveness/Meeting Objectives

  • The City of Vaughan developed a collaborative mentorship with the York Catholic and York Region District School Boards, delivered through in-class assignments. The City’s curatorial staff mentored students creating original artwork for the pilot in alignment with the Ontario Curriculum for visual art. Students created original designs inspired by Group of Seven paintings, capturing the spirit of the Canadian landscape in their original works digitized for vinyl application. 12 works were selected from 64 student submissions from St. Elizabeth CHS and Westmount CI (Vaughan’s two regional secondary school visual art specialty programs) for installation at 12 locations across five city wards. To support post-secondary studies in the arts and recognize exceptional emerging Vaughan talent, 12 City of Vaughan Student Higher Art Education Bursaries of $1,000 each were awarded to students.
  • 12 high calibre installations enhance the creative urban character of Vaughan’s neighborhoods and beautify city streetscapes. They boost economic development and tourism as landmark destinations for both visitors and residents, encouraging active transportation and social interaction.
  • A comprehensive Communications Plan rolled out during the pilot launch gaining significant media exposure for both the program and artists.

Challenges & Changes

Staff faced limitations working within the strict communication protocols of both regional school boards to protect student privacy. Mentorship issues were resolved seamlessly by staff consulting directly with school educators as the conduit between City and students. Also, the pilot targeted only two traffic signal box locations for each of the City’s five wards for 10 boxes, but two additional locations were added to animate the Woodbridge Avenue Improvements and Streetscaping Project.

Target Audience

  1. Vaughan Residents: city-wide pedestrian and vehicular viewership
  2. Visitors to the City of Vaughan/cultural tourism

On-Going Collaboration

The pilot is the working blueprint for the 10-Year ARTonBOXES Program Implementation Strategy. Community collaborators in this long-term creative placemaking program include the Regional Municipality of York, cultural/heritage groups, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, art academia, BIAs, artists, and residents.