Streets Alive! is an annual outdoor art event in downtown Orillia open to the public all summer long. It draws locals, cottagers and tourists to Orillia’s downtown streets to boost the local economy and instill a sense of civic pride. In 2022 Streets Alive celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Mariposa Folk Festival with a Flower Power theme blooming across the city.
Streets Alive! started in 2009 as an offshoot of the successful Orillia Festival of Banners. This first Streets Alive! event featured jury-selected artists transforming large-scale vinyl banners with their art live on the street. The Peter Street art block was buzzing with music, performance art and hands-on activity.
The appeal of the event was particularly evident on the second day, as over 400 people lined up in the rain to vote for their favourite banners. The top four artists earned substantial People’s Choice cash prizes, and their banners joined the Festival of Banners collection for prominent display in Orillia.
The project has grown each year, with more and more artists vying to get involved and word of our incredible artistic endeavours spreading farther afield. 2010 featured giant guitars. The next year brought wrought-iron sailboats with lexan sails as the artists’ canvas. 2012 celebrated Stephen Leacock, with sculptures modelled on his reading chair at his Orillia summer home. 2013 was a love letter to art; templates spanned the alphabet, with artists taking giant steel letters and making them their own. Artists transformed metal planter sculptures to showcase the theme of Art Grows Here for the 2014 project. In 2015 artists truly opened the door to creativity, creating beautiful works of art from, you guessed it — doors. It was all about the concept of story in the 2016 project, Story Poles. In 2017, Streets Alive honoured Canada150 with giant Maple Leaves celebrating all things Canadian. 2018 marked the 10 year anniversary of Streets Alive with a retrospective featuring many pieces from previous years. Cycling on the mind in 2019, with a pedal-powered theme featuring bicycle artwork.
Prize money has grown along with the buzz — it’s now at $10,000 for 1st, $5,000 for 2nd and $2,500 for 3rd — with artist honorariums at $700. Winners are determined by combining the popular People’s Choice voting, open all summer, and a juried vote.