House of PainT Connecting the People and the Culture

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Since 2003, The House of PainT festival of Urban Arts and Culture has been bringing artists and lovers of the craft together in our nations capital, as a wonderful salute to the summer months. While back then it was solely 150 people, it has grown to an expected 10,000 for this year’s upcoming festival, with 7,000 in attendance at last year’s event.

The 2015 festival will mostly be held under the Dunbar Bridge and around Brewer Park, as it has since the beginning. It will run from September 9th to the 13th and those days will be filled with break dancing, beat boxing, DJ and music shows, photography, film, slam poetry, and 60+ artists showcasing their graffiti. There are also workshops, courses, academic talks, children’s workshops and activities available to all attendees. The walls under the Dunbar bridge were the first legal graffiti walls in Ottawa and this resonates with many of the artists, as well as residents involved. However, there are also international performers involved. I remember when it was simply some scaffolding on the walls for graffiti artists to scale and produce their art, a few planks of wood on the floor for the dancers and purely the echo of the location for musicians. While it took almost 10 years to blow up, that’s what makes it so beautiful.


Just like art itself, the founders stuck out the struggle to make something remarkable. Graffiti artists spend years upon years waiting in the dark of night, climbing to terrifying heights, just to get that “heaven spot,” in hopes of having more people see their art. One day, sometimes far in the future, they get the recognition that they deserve and House of PainT represents that to the fullest.

The festival sprung out from the dreams of a collection of Ottawa’s urban artists, who volunteered their time to put it on. In 2010, the festival grew to an attendance of over 3,000 people and of course, with growth comes more work and more work takes more people. So in 2012, the artists ran an online survey, a series of community consultations, and a visioning retreat, so they could see if the festival was meeting the needs of the community they were and still are representing.

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They also wanted to see what was expected of them in the future and it became very clear that it was an integral part in the evolution of Ottawa’s urban arts scene. While the official line-up and program is not yet available to the public for this year, stay tuned for highlights of previous years, more information on the festival and all official announcements. is the official site for House of PainT coverage.

This story can also be found at

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