Burlington To Form Task Force Aimed At Making Downtown Mural More Inclusive

Mar 13, 2018

The Burlington City Council voted Monday night to create a task force to figure out how to make a downtown mural more inclusive.

The mural, "Everyone Loves A Parade," features a number of famous Vermonters but omits out people of color who have played a role in the state's history.

The city council has been debating how to update the mural to be more inclusive. Councilor Joan Shannon introduced the resolution to form the task force.

"I think this resolution recognizes that the ‘Everyone Loves A Parade’ mural is not as inclusive as we expect in our community, but that there might be a variety of different solutions,” she said.

Shannon said she hopes that the group will be able to come up with a solution for fixing the mural and how to avoid these problems in the future.

“I think it's much harder to correct a mistake once it's done and there's a huge investment in something like this and it will be better if we can head it off before all that money is spent and before we make the mistake,” she said.

The task force, which would report back to the council in July, will have seven members and include members of the community who could apply to be a part of the group.

The resolution states the task force should “have a wide array of perspectives, including that of New American, Abenaki and other diverse communities, the Church Street Marketplace Commission, mural donors and the arts community.”

In January the council asked the city attorney Eileen Blackwood to take a look at the legal ramifications of removing the mural.

On Monday night, Blackwood told the council that her office determined the city probably owns the mural, though she recommended getting a written agreement from the Church Street Marketplace Foundation to have a record of that fact.

Blackwood said the artist who painted it does have the right under the Visual Artist Rights Act to “prevent any distortion, mutilation, or modification of a work.”

“Essential our recommendation is that we should be going to the artist and trying our best to get the artists consent for whatever we try to do, that’s going to be the safest legal way for us to proceed,” she said.

The piece by Pierre Hardy, a Canadian muralist, was installed in 2012.

As of publication, there is no further information available on how to apply to be part of the city council's task force.