Mayoral hopefuls polled on financing, public artwork
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.
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.