Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A piano for safety - the Red Deer experiment

Activity support in downtown Red Deer, Alberta
Steven Woolrich is an Alberta CPTED consultant and board member of the International CPTED Association. He is a frequent contributor to SafeGrowth. He currently authors the Target Crime blog linked on LIKEMINDED. This is an exerpt from his upcoming 2012 article for the ICA newsletter CPTED Perspective.

Activity support helps generate more buzz on our streets and can create more interaction between all types of people. Music is certainly a way of generating interest on the street and for me the piano is the ultimate instrument for delivering a great melody. After hearing about street pianos being placed around New York City, I figured why not Red Deer, Alberta.

Children need fun and touchable street furniture

After speaking with serveral business owners in the area it was decided. The piano would rest in a small alcove outside a local restaurant on Ross Street, the main drag through downtown Red Deer. It was named the Ross Street piano.

Interest in the project grew quickly with several carpenters offering to build a new deck for the piano with building materials being provided by the local Co-op at no cost. The piano was installed on July 28th, 2010 and remained in place until the first part of October. Several City officials played a tune or two, including the Mayor.

In the weeks that followed many local people dropped by to tickle the ivory keys and sing along with others. The piano was there for anyone to use, day or night. Business owners and those playing the instrument would cover it up at night before going home.

Public art and culture has many expression if left to the public.
The Ross Street Piano will be available again this summer from June through August and will now highlight some local artwork as well. The piano will allow artists to showcase their talents with a new theme each year.

2 Replies so far - Add your comment

Daren Fisher said...

A similar program operated in Sydney, Australia back in 2009. It was fascinating to see each unique community in Sydney taking ownership of these pianos, especially in areas that I would not have expected this to have happened.

GSaville said...

Thanks for the link Daren. Great ideas do indeed travel mysteriously.

Back in January I wrote about the New York public megaphone for passers-by to have fun playtime.

There will always be closed-eyed cynics who doubt people really act like this - or short-sighted ones who get turned off when something goes wrong like vandalism.

But the the long view is people will rise to these moments if given the chance through artful design, creative opportunities and a little bit of leadership gumption. Fences are not required