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August to see return of community painted pianos in Oak Bay

Play your favourite tunes outdoors this summer, in five different locations
A beautifully decorated piano titled “The Queen Gull” and painted by local artist Sherry Tompalski awaits an avid pianist on a warm sunny day, c. 2019. (Courtesy of Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and Culture)

Avid musicians can look forward to the return of public painted pianos around Oak Bay in August.

Courtesy of Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and Culture, local residents will have access to colourful and well-maintained pianos in the seventh year of the district’s pop-up piano project.

From early August to mid September, pianos will be available to play at Cattle Point, Turkey Head, Loon Bay Park, McNeill Bay and Willows Beach between 10 a.m. and dusk. The locations were recommended by Oak Bay council’s public art advisory committee, according to arts and culture programmer Glenna Garramone from Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and Culture.

“We’re really happy and in some ways relieved that the public health situation is such that they’re welcoming of (this project),” said Garramone, who is also a pianist and looks forward to using the pianos herself when not working.

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The pianos are painted by local artists and St. Michael’s University School senior art students. The project is a component of district-run public art program ArtsAlive, which continues to operate on a reduced basis for 2021-22 due to COVID-19 public health restrictions.

Among sponsors of the project is Allison Piano, which has helped tune, transport and maintain the pianos installed by the district for the last six years, according to owner Keith Allison.

“We just try to keep them alive for the season,” he said, noting the instruments are sometimes subject to unfavourable weather conditions and vandalism.

That said, having them out in the public spaces “just raises the consciousness of people playing music wherever they have (a piano),” Allison said.

Crack those knuckles and prepare to show off some seaside melodies in the weeks to come. To learn more about ArtsAlive and its activities, visit

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