British Columbia

Country music association wants Merritt, B.C., murals appraised

The Canadian Country Music Association wants the murals of country music stars painted throughout downtown Merritt, B.C., to be appraised.

Appraisal will cost nearly $10,000; association looks to city for funding

The murals in downtown Merritt, B.C., painted by artist Michelle Loughery, could help the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame get funding if an official value is placed on them. (Tourism Merritt)

Murals depicting music celebrities in Merritt, B.C., could be worth more than just a glance, according to the Canadian Country Music Association.

The association wants to get the murals, including paintings of Tim McGraw and Elvis Presley, appraised so they can find out what the pieces are worth to the community.

"It helps the downtown stay alive," said association president Ron Sanders.

"We'd like to see it being recognized properly."

Artist Michelle Loughery stands in front of her mural of country music star Tim McGraw in Merritt, B.C. (Michelle Loughery)

The murals were painted by artist Michelle Loughery from Vernon, B.C., between 2005 and 2012 as part of an initiative that provided at-risk Indigenous youth with trades skills and created public art for the community.

"The legacy that's left behind has a dollar value that I don't think anyone's ever quantified," Loughery said.

By placing a value on the murals, Sanders said applying for corporate or government funding will be easier for the association, which operates the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and its Walk of Stars. 

"We're always looking to legitimize our projects," he said.

The Elvis Presley mural in Merritt, B.C., has been sanctioned by the Presley estate. (Michelle Loughery)

Sanders approached Merritt city council last week to share this idea and let them know the association is considering asking the city to be part of the appraisal.

"I think it would be worthwhile for the city to have the information," Sanders said. "They don't realize what the assets are in town."

"There's many things I think this conversation can start that's educating a small community of the value," Loughery said.

Because the project has a heavy tourism component, Sanders said he's also hoping to get local tourism associations and the museum involved.

"The country legend murals are a valuable tourism asset for our community," said Will George, manager of tourism with the City of Merritt. "They help set Merritt apart from other similar sized communities and assist to bring visitors to our downtown core."

Canadian country music star Johnny Reid poses with the mural Michelle Loughery painted in his honour in Merritt, B.C. (Michelle Loughery)

Sanders expects the appraisal could cost up to $10,000, but says it's worth it because the pieces will help bring in future tourism dollars and funding. 

"It's an asset you can use for leveraging for funding," he said. "It supports your credibility and the value you've put into the project."

Sanders said there are plenty of ideas about what the art may be worth, so having an official appraisal will answer some questions and give a true sense of value to the whole city. 

With files from Tara Copeland


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About the Author

Courtney Dickson

Broadcast and Digital Journalist

Courtney Dickson is a journalist working in Kamloops, B.C. Email her at courtney.dickson@cbc.ca with story tips.