Public Art? Change, Yes. Eliminate, No.

Many of you I’ve met at the doors this week have talked about Public Art. Here’s what I’ve heard.

Many of you are upset by the latest installation on Highway 1, among others. You want the Public Art program to be modified, but not eliminated. Allocating up to 1% of major project budgets for Public Art projects is reasonable. Spending 80% of Public Art costs on local business for fabrication and installation is sensible.

We do need to make some changes.

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Chinook Arc on 12 Avenue SW in the Beltline

Let’s inspire conversations about art, and ensure that public preferences are heard. Involve Calgarians much earlier. Share proposals in art competitions with the community. Invite the public to provide feedback before selections are made and installations completed. 

Let’s be flexible about where we install Public Art. Installations should be located in accessible public areas, not beside freeways or behind obscure buildings.

Let’s support our local artists, but also think carefully before we reject artists outside of Calgary. If we restrict competition, do we reduce opportunities for our own artists who are competing beyond our borders? Let’s talk to our local artistic community and see what they think.

Public Art programs exist in many, many other cities. The works they create are highly visible and enduring. They inspire passionate debate. They're also a tiny fraction of our multi-billion dollar budget here in Calgary.

Let’s make some reasonable policy changes, make it right for us, and move on to even bigger issues.

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