Calgary Arts Development crowned future operator of controversial public art program


The city of Calgary announced Monday that it had named Calgary Arts Development as the future operator of the city’s controversial public art program, and lifted the suspension of its funding that had been in place since 2017.

The program was frozen after several controversial public art projects – such as the $ 500,000 art installation known as Bowfort Towers and the giant $ 470,000 blue ring sculpture dubbed Traveling Light – and arguments over the best use of l taxpayer money.

In 2019, the city decided to outsource the operation of the program to a new organization that would operate at arm’s length from the city, in a system similar to Edmonton’s public art program.

He said the move could save money, reduce the number of municipal workers involved, and potentially see more local artists winning public art contracts.

Calgary Arts Development was chosen after a two-year process that the city said included full civic engagement, requests for proposals (RFPs) and information from its selection committee.

“I think public art should be little things that just appear in your community, instead of these massive things that sometimes aren’t readable as art,” Nenshi said Monday.

One of Calgary’s controversial public art works, Wishing Well, has been in storage since it burned a hole in a spectator’s jacket. But it could be re-showing this year. (Genesis Center for Community Wellness / Facebook)

“I think Calgary Arts Development will continue to do a good job, just making sure that public art meets its needs, which is to delight people in the community.

The program will now be gradually transferred to the non-profit organization, which already allocates and invests municipal funds for the arts, over a three-year timeframe and with the help of the city.

“Calgarians are very passionate about the arts and continue to make Calgary an inviting and vibrant place to live and visit,” said Jennifer Thompson, Director of Arts and Culture for the City of Calgary, in a press release. .

“Having a third-party operator for the Calgary Public Art Program will reduce barriers to the participation of the local Calgary arts community in the program, increase transparency for citizens and increase investment in the local creative economy.” .

New arrangement simple, accessible, diverse, says city

The city said it has heard nearly 3,000 Calgarians talk about the future of the program.

Its seven-person selection committee, which included two arts professionals, also reviewed the tender submissions to recommend the organization they felt was best suited for the job.

Calgary Arts Development, according to the city’s press release, was selected because of its “proven and extensive knowledge and understanding of bringing art to Calgarians.”

Under the new arrangement, the city will still maintain a corporate public art budget that devotes one percent of capital project funds to public works of art. And the public art collection will continue to belong to the city.

But the procurement process will be simpler, more accessible and will promote greater diversity among the artists commissioned under the program, depending on the city.

“We are very pleased to have been chosen as the promoter to undertake the public art program,” said Patti Pon, President and CEO of Calgary Arts Development.

“The public art program fits perfectly with what we stand for; our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility; our direct relationship with the Calgary arts sector; and our vision of a creative and connected Calgary through the arts. “


Kayleen C. Rice

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.