May­oral hope­fuls polled on fi­nanc­ing, public art­work

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Some may­oral can­di­dates sup­port the small artists, some go to the big­ger and more well­known shows and some pre­fer the purest form of all: Karaoke.

On Mon­day, Cal­gar­i­ans with a cre­ative side got their first taste of where eight may­oral can­di­dates stood on the arts, on top­ics rang­ing from art fund­ing to how the city picks its public art pieces — and their stances were all over the map.

Cal­gary’s may­oral forum for the arts was held at Theatre Junc­tion Grand by the Al­berta Theatre Projects, One Yel­low Rab­bit and Theatre Junc­tion Grand.

Can­di­dates Shawn Bald­win, An­dre Chabot, Dr. Emile Gabriel, Paul Hughes, David Lapp, Bill Smith, Na­heed Nen­shi and David Trem­blay at­tended the event.

In July coun­cil ap­proved $2 mil­lion in emer­gency fund­ing for the city’s 10 cor­ner­stone arts groups, some who said they’d shut­ter if they didn’t get an in­jec­tion of funds. Through that dis­cus­sion it was brought to light that com­pared to Ed­mon­ton, the City of Cal­gary doesn’t give arts as much fund­ing, be­cause it’s typ­i­cally funded through the Oil and Gas in­dus­try.

Coun­cil­lors and artists alike agreed there should be a more sus­tain­able way to help the arts through the good and bad, and the may­oral can­di­dates were no dif­fer­ent.

“Let’s see how we can work with not just the com­mu­nity, and pri­vate and cor­po­rate sec­tor donors, but other or­ders of govern­ment,” said An­dre Chabot. “I also be­lieve it’s truly crit­i­cal from an eco­nomic per­spec­tive and tourism per­spec­tive to pro­mote our arts.”

Some, like David Lapp, said he’s not sure throw­ing money at art pro­grams will make things any bet­ter.

“Is it all about the dol­lars?” he asked rhetor­i­cally. “I don’t be­lieve so and I dare dis­agree

there were just lit­tle pieces of mis­in­for­ma­tion ... i’d re­ally hope that the can­di­dates take the op­por­tu­nity to learn more about what’s al­ready in place.

Mark Hop­kins

with you about that.”

He even­tu­ally clar­i­fied that he does be­lieve arts should be funded, but that it’s more about how fund­ing works, not how much fund­ing is avail­able, that will im­prove the city’s arts.

“We have to come up with a proper Cal­gary so­lu­tion,” added Nen­shi, not­ing he’d like to see Cal­gary look at the fund­ing based on in­put mea­sures based on how much other cities are pay­ing.

David Trem­blay chimed in stat­ing he doesn’t be­lieve fund­ing is cur­rently go­ing to the right in­sti­tu­tions, and that too much is spent on larger groups like the Na­tional Mu­sic Cen­tre.

But the star of the dis­cus­sion, or the piece with the most men­tions, was the city’s new­est public art piece Bow­fort Tow­ers, which was an ex­am­ple many of the can­di­dates used to un­der­line how the city can do bet­ter with its con­tro­ver­sial pro­gram.

Bill Smith de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion as a black eye on the city’s public art pro­gram.

“We need to take a good re­view of how we’re do­ing things at city hall,” said Smith. “I can’t tell you right now that I’m go­ing to prom­ise any more money, but I will plan to work with you ... but its got to be col­lab­o­ra­tive.”

De­spite the can­di­dates best ef­forts, Mark Hop­kins from Swal­low a Bi­cy­cle said can­di­dates didn’t delve into the is­sues enough and were spread­ing some mis­in­for­ma­tion about the how the arts in Cal­gary works me­chan­i­cally, and what role public art plays in giv­ing lo­cal work­ers jobs, de­spite who the artist is and where they are from.

“There were just lit­tle pieces of mis­in­for­ma­tion ... I’d re­ally hope that the can­di­dates take the op­por­tu­nity to learn more about what’s al­ready in place in the city and what’s work­ing,” said Hop­kins. “There’s things that are not and I’d love for them to learn about those things too.”


cal­gary may­oral can­di­date Bill Smith speaks at a town hall-style forum on Mon­day.

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