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News / December 19, 2013

Three Calgary Art Institutions Join Forces

A view of the Art Gallery of Calgary / photo by Devour Catering via Flickr A view of the Art Gallery of Calgary / photo by Devour Catering via Flickr

Members of three Calgary visual-arts institutions—Museum of Contemporary Art Calgary, the Art Gallery of Calgary and the Institute for Modern and Contemporary Art—are joining forces to consolidate operations into a new arts society called Contemporary Calgary.

This follows a February 2012 agreement between MOCA and IMCA to bring a world-class art museum to Calgary.

The consolidation was announced today in a press release which noted all three boards agreed to the idea. The three new co-chairs of the Contemporary Calgary governance board include one co-chair from each institution: Carol Ryder, formerly a director of MOCA board; David Rehn, formerly chair of the AGC board; and Daryl Fridhandler, formerly a director of IMCA.

In a phone interview with Canadian Art, Ryder stated that discussions around consolidation began over a year ago through Calgary Arts Development and grew stronger as members of each institution filed a joint application to repurpose Calgary’s old planetarium as a contemporary art facility.

“Collectively, we are stronger. Collectively, we all have the same aim,” Ryder says. “Now, we can work better together for funders, sponsors, and members.”

The new organization will occupy the former Art Gallery of Calgary space on Stephen Avenue Mall. Ryder notes that MOCA has had great programming but not much space; as of January 1, MOCA director Geoffrey Spalding will become Contemporary Calgary’s creative director. (The AGC space was prioritized for use because of its class-A rating; it is uncertain as of yet what will happen with the MOCA Calgary space attached to Calgary’s City Hall.)

“We have a lot of heavy lifting to do in the next year,” Ryder says. By fall, Contemporary Calgary should have an elected board.

Current programming, curatorial, marketing and administrative staff from MOCA and AGC are to work together and form the new staff at Contemporary Calgary.  Ryder stated that there will be no layoffs of any staff due to amalgamation.

“This is really good news for Calgary, to get everyone working together,” Ryder said. She said this will aid in fundraising efforts, which are especially necessary in part because Contemporary Calgary will not charge admission fees for exhibitions.

The official amalgamation of the Contemporary Calgary society happens on January 1, 2014. Terry Rock, formerly president and CEO of Calgary Arts Development, will be interim managing director of Contemporary Calgary.

Additional information regarding 2014 exhibitions, programming and special events are expected from the new board in early January.

Leah Sandals

Leah Sandals is a writer and editor based in Toronto. Her arts journalism has appeared in the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, among other publications, and her creative work has been published in Prism, Room and Freefall. She can be reached via