The Impact of Public Art: Brightening Spaces to Spark Creativity

“Arts sparks creativity and innovation both within yourself and in the wider community”.

NYA has had the pleasure of working with the team at Great West life Realty Advisors (GWLRA) for many years.  Building bridges between local businesses and artists to connect our communities to the arts and enliven public spaces. Liya Abbasova was the  Senior Property Manager at Great West Life Realty Advisors. She worked with NYA to produce a mural by Moonlight Murals Collective at North York Centre, a commercial centre and commuter hub managed by GWLRA. 

Art plays a specific role in our society and in community building. For Liya the experience working with North York Arts on the mural provided an opportunity to show the community the impact of art in public spaces. 

“It enriches the space with colour. For me colour is so important and impacts how I feel and can make my day. I’m obsessed with colours the brighter, the better, the more vibrant, the better. Colour sparks my imagination. The world needs more colour these days”.


“In general the arts promote culture, creativity and innovation and make a space more inclusive and welcoming.  It provokes conversation, which is what happened in our office.  Art is so subjective so you get to voice your opinions. It’s not just a linear type of communication, it provokes different ideas and different topics of discussion. It allows you to feel like you can be open because there’s no wrong answer. There’s no wrong opinion in art.”

Thousands of people go through the North York Centre as part of their daily commute or because they have business in the Centre. Therefore, public art has the opportunity to impact both the local and city-wide residents.  

What could that impact look like? For Liya it was quite simply the hope that it might brighten up their day:

“To put a smile on their face and start the day from a positive place.”  

For a busy hub like the North York Centre:

“…you have these little windows during the day to connect with your audience, to and from work or on someone’s lunch hour. These are quick snap shots. You need something that can catch people’s attention and give them something that can inspire them for the rest of the day. You don’t have a long time to do this. This is a unique challenge and opportunity for businesses and the arts to come together.  Businesses want to make an impression and attract people to their space. Public art is a way to do this and this is where business and the arts can work toward common goals. By partnering with organisations like North York Arts businesses have the opportunity to support their local artists and contribute to the cultural vibrancy of their community, which also benefits the occupants of their spaces and their customers.”


“When we started the project it was about bringing the community together, to make sure that the community knows GWLRA is not just about money making but that we also care about the environment, about the land and about the people.  However, it also ended up having a real impact on the staff at GWLRA. It really did bring us really closer together and it opened up some very interesting conversations.  It turns out we had quite a few art critics on our team!”

After working with North York Arts Liya organised a pumpkin carving contest but the pumpkin carving contest turned into a pumpkin painting contest.

“Everybody knows how to carve a pumpkin but to paint it, to create and research a design is something else! What do we do? What colours can we use? There was so much engagement with the team during Halloween that year.  It was crazy. Our office turned into an art studio! We had newspapers all over the place, paint everywhere. I ruined my jeans because I wanted to do paint splattering on my pumpkin. It was such an amazing team building exercise and I don’t think we would have done something like that prior to our experience working with NYA.”

For Liya this project sparked creativity and innovation within herself, her workplace, her family and in the wider community.  Public art can impact people differently. The impact can be passive or it can have the power to change the way we see the world.

Add a little colour to your community and make some space for art today!

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