Vandals put Vernon public piano out of play

An instrument of joy has been damaged in downtown Vernon.

A colourful piano had been stationed next to the sidewalk in front of Good Gracious on 30th Avenue, since early spring.

But it didn’t last long. The piano was tipped over and damaged recently. Although minor, the vandalism has left David Stanfield, manager of the Vernon Public Piano Project, disheartened by how the instrument was treated.

“I checked on it every couple of days and had to clean up nasty stuff sometimes,” he said of cigarette butts, alcohol and garbage.

But he did and it was worth it when he saw the joy the piano brought to those who sat down to tickle its ivories, and those who took a minute to listen to the music.

“This is not for me,” Stanfield said, noting that many homeless people found joy in playing it. “For some of them, this is the most important thing in their life. I bump into them and they tell me how much this means to them.

“This music is part of the solution, now they have something to do,” he said. “It actually makes a difference in people’s lives.

“It’s precious.”

But the man behind the piano knew its days could be over in a flash.

The piano project is not over, though.

Efforts are underway to get a piano into an indoor venue and off the streets.

While it may not continue to be a public instrument, it could still serve as a centre for performances, for those who are truly interested in respecting it, Standfield said.

“So this is a long-term project, and I have every intent on working on this being integrated into the new cultural centre,” he said, hoping the arts community will get behind him to assist.

This isn’t the first time the piano has been removed from the streets.

Former Good Gracious owner Dave Russell bought the piano from Dodd’s Auction in 2015 and put it in front of the store. Looking for an artist to liven up the instrument, Russell put a call out to the public via the Morning Star, for someone interested in adding some colour and art to the piano.

Stanfield, a public artist, read the article while in the Bean Scene and decided to add his personal touch to the piano.

READ MORE: Downtown feature hits a high note

“I took it upon myself to continue being the creative artist, and maintenance man — not only of the piano, but of the general area; garbage on the sidewalk, etc.,” Stanfield said.

But the piano didn’t last long due to vandalism and someone who even went out of their way to move it down the road.

Good Gracious no longer wanted the responsibility, therefore Stanfield took over and has been housing the piano in his storage for the past four years until he finally brought it back out this spring.

He even worked with Interior Piano Service to get the instrument tuned and has since been in contact with the Towne Cinema to possibly move a different piano in there.

READ MORE: Piano man lights up Vernon streets


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Jennifer Smith

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Jennifer Smith

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