What started as a Westbank-sponsored fundraiser to help purchase and place publicly accessible pianos around the city, became an event focussed around the piano we commissioned. For the event, we built a bike attached to a carriage attached to a piano. We then hired an artist, Zola Novak to paint the piano, and we invited Mayor Gregor Robertson to ride it into its new home at Woodward’s. This whole event came about after we were inspired watching CNN after the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015 and saw a story about a man who painted a peace symbol on a piano and played Imagine out in a Parisian square. Then, when there was a police shooting in Dallas a few months later he took his piano and played Dallas. The man’s music struck a nerve and we thought it captured a sentiment worth replicating. The piano for Keys to the Streets is still there in the lobby of Woodward’s, being played as much as eight hours a day. Next we are putting a piano in the laneway at TELUS Garden.
Right now the team at Keys to the Streets has 25 pianos around the city and it is a fantastic way to bring people together. If you walk about the city and you look at the pianos, people are playing them all day long. The program, is managed entirely by volunteers who maintain, paint, source and place these pianos all around the city. It is a program that fits well into our ideas of using art to build community.