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Bob Hunter Public Art Project

An exciting new public art project that will honor the legacy of Robert “Bob” Hunter, a prominent Barrie resident, who passed away in 1991, but not before envisioning a performing arts space much like the one we now have at Meridian Place.


Program Update: The deadline for submission of expressions of interest for the Bob Hunter public art project has passed, with submissions received from across the country.

In late July a jury of five third-party individuals representing the Hunter family, downtown community, architectural realm, visual arts and music community assembled under the facilitation of Corinna Ghaznavi, independent curator and former Public Art Coordinator for the City of Markham.

The jury reviewed the expressions of interest and short listed four respondents who proceeded to Phase 2 in the submission process and will provide their concept and technical proposal. Phase 2 will run until the end of October at which time an artist/artist-team will be selected, provided the jury finds one of the final submissions acceptable.

The intent is to install the piece in Meridian Place in the summer of 2020. The Barrie Public Art Committee continues to fundraise for this important new commissioned piece of public art. For more information about the project, please call the Creative Economy Department at 705-739-4299.

Purpose of the Project

  • Create a new, unique work of public art in honour of Bob Hunter recognizing his commitment to the community
  • Grow our economy in Barrie by attracting tourists and new residents with a visible kick-start to the goal of facilitating art in public spaces
  • Promote healthy and safe activities for people to enjoy in the downtown
  • Highlight Meridian Place by encouraging complementary cultural activities such as bike tours, guided walks, etc.

About the Project

Robert (Bob) Hunter was born 1929 in Barrie and played a significant role in the community. Mr. Hunter was an active member of the Barrie Chamber of Commerce (serving as president in 1968) and the Barrie Rotary Club. He attended Barrie Central Collegiate where he played trumpet with the concert band led by W.A. Fisher. Mr. Hunter developed a lifelong passion for performing music and played in several bands including the Barrie Concert Band, the Baytowne Big Band, the Skyliners and The Bob Hunter Band. He felt strongly that there should be an outdoor facility on Barrie’s waterfront where people could gather and enjoy live music. In 1999, shortly before his death, he and architect Millet Salter submitted a proposal to the Trillium Foundation to acquire funding for such a venue. Unfortunately, the project was not realized, but their ideas were quite similar in design and location to the outdoor band shell in Meridian Place.

In Bob’s memory, his family would like to contribute to a work of art to be displayed at Meridian Place. They would like it to reflect Bob’s love of performing, his commitment to the community he loved, and his vision of Barrie’s beautiful waterfront as a place to gather and enjoy.

The Plan

The Hunter family has committed $50,000 to the project. The Barrie Public Art Committee (BPAC) plans to raise an additional $50,000 in gifts from interested residents and businesses. The funds raised will be used for the competition process, creation of the commissioned work, installation costs, insurance, conservation and maintenance. With Bob’s long history in Barrie, and with his many business associates and friends, the committee are confident this is possible. This will be the first site-specific work for Meridian Place. This project’s acknowledgement of our performing arts history and its connection to an admired figure who played a central role in it, will provide a foundation for a diverse public art collection in Barrie. What better way to start than at Meridian Place, the centre of the city, where it all began with the realization of Bob Hunter’s vision. The City of Barrie is working in partnership with the BPAC, Downtown Barrie BIA and the Hunter family on the fundraising campaign and commissioning process for this public art project.

Frequently Asked Questions
What will the artwork look like?

This artwork has many possible visual outcomes. There will be a national competition and call to artists to propose concepts. The artists who respond are asked to propose a work of art that honours the memory of Bob Hunter and celebrates the history of musical performance in Barrie. It is not intended to be a likeness of Mr. Hunter, rather an interpretation of his passion for music and his legacy in the performing arts community. The selected artist may interpret this intention in any media. The project only requires that the finished piece suit the size and scale of its intended site and the typical uses of Meridian Place. It must also offer an invitation for reflection and engagement by the various publics who will encounter it.

How will the successful proposal be selected?

The successful proposal will be selected by a jury of 5 local stakeholders. BPAC will facilitate the process remaining arms-length and the jury make-up will include:

  • One member from the visual arts community
  • One member from the architectural/landscape architect community
  • One member from the Downtown Barrie BIA
  • One member from the performing arts/music community
  • One member from the Hunter family

Why Bob Hunter, why at Meridian Place?

Mr. Hunter’s family approached BPAC offering $50,000 to go towards a piece of public art honouring his legacy in Barrie, installed in Meridian Place. Without the support of the Hunter family, the piece would not be possible at this time with the existing public art budget.

How much will the artwork cost?

The artwork will be conceived, fabricated and installed for $100,000. The venture of public art can be quite expensive, as public art is technically considered infrastructure and has to be treated as such. Because of this, most of the money spent on public art ultimately goes to fabricators, project management, engineering, installation, contractors, specialist fees, heavy equipment, raw materials, rigorous testing, and any number of invisible substructures intended for our safety. Maintenance costs also have to be considered in all public art installations. The budget for this project is being covered by $50,000 donated to the City of Barrie by the Hunter family and $50,000 fundraised from the community.

How do I make a donation?

Donation cheques (and Donation Receipt Request Forms when a receipt is preferred) can be mailed to City of Barrie, Attention: Amanda Dyke PO Box 400, Barrie, ON L4M 4T5, or hand delivered to Amanda Dyke's attention at the Creative Economy Department, 56 Mulcaster Street, Barrie, Ontario.

Who will receive tax receipts?

Individuals who make monetary donations of $20.00 or more and submit with a completed City of Barrie Donation Receipt Request Form will receive a charitable tax receipt. Businesses will not receive a charitable receipt but will receive a receipt for their gift.

How will donors be recognized?

People who contribute $1,000 or more to the fundraising campaign will be recognized in name on a plaque near the sculpture.

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