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Public Art

Public art is visual art that exists in the public realm. It includes all works that are commissioned, purchased by, or donated to the City to be located in publicly accessible spaces.

In October 2012, City Council approved its first Public Art Policy, created by a committee of arts experts from Barrie and surrounding area. The policy established a public art committee that works to raise the profile of public art and create a vibrant, animated city full of public art for all to enjoy.

Bob Hunter Memorial

Bob Hunter photo cropped.jpg 

Purpose of the Hunter 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 in Barrie in 1929. A lifelong Barrie resident, he attended school here, married, and raised three children with his wife Josie. He was as dedicated to the community as he was to his family. Bob was an active member of the Barrie Chamber of Commerce (serving as president in 1968) and the Barrie Rotary Club. He had a very successful business career as manager of CKBB radio and later became president of Cooper Group Canada, a company that manufactured tools.
While at Central Collegiate he took up the trumpet and was part of the concert band led by W.A. Fisher for whom the auditorium was named. This developed in Bob a lifelong passion for performing music. He played in several bands, helping to build Barrie’s global musical reputation.
As Barrie’s waterfront began to develop, Bob felt strongly that there should be an outdoor facility where people could meet and enjoy what musicians and other artists love to do - perform. He was unflagging in his enthusiasm for this vision and even applied for funding at one time. Unfortunately, none of this came to fruition before his death in 1999.
When Meridian Place was completed, Bob’s family recognized that this was the exact facility their dad had envisioned. 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 family has committed $50,000 to the project. The Barrie Public Art Committee 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. Interested donors can contact Amanda Dyke at or 705-739-4220 ext. 4593 for details.

It is expected that a national call for submissions by artists will be made public in June 2019, with an artist selected in early 2020. The plan is to have an artwork installed in the summer of 2020. Stay tuned for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What will the artwork look like?
A: 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.

Q: How will the successful proposal be selected?
A: 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 BIA
  • One member from the performing arts/music community
  • One member from the Hunter family

Q: Why Bob Hunter, why at Meridian Place?
A: 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.

Q: How much will the artwork cost?
A: 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.

Q: How do I make a donation?
A: 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.

Q: Who will receive tax receipts?
A: Individuals who make monetary donations of $20.00 or more and submit with a completed Donation Receipt Request Form Bob Hunter project.docx will receive a charitable tax receipt. Businesses will not receive a charitable receipt but will receive a receipt for their gift.

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

About the Barrie Public Art Committee 

The Barrie Public Art Committee’s (BPAC) goal is to enhance Barrie with art, and encourage residents and visitors alike to visit public spaces. Made up of volunteers from the art and design industry, and interested community members, BPAC secures art by commissioning new works, facilitating donations, and organizing temporary installations. 

Vision: Connecting our Community through Public Art

Mission Statement: “The Barrie Public Arts Committee will enhance the City of Barrie by purposefully acquiring public art that inspires and connects the community in our public spaces. We will promote art appreciation and build lasting relationships through education, integration and activation that engages the community, creates conversation and demonstrates the value of public art”.

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