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News in Brief: Arts Community Demands Changes at Calgary City Hall

This week, Calgary arts groups walked away from plans to create a new gallery, and also demanded more funding. City Hall was implied to be the problem

Our editors’ weekly roundup of art news.

Contemporary Calgary has walked away from plans to turn the city’s old Centennial Planetarium into a contemporary art gallery. In a September 13 report to the community, Contemporary Calgary board chair Jay Mehr implied that the problem lies with the City of Calgary’s approach to the plan: “they are not prepared at this time to provide necessary assurances with regards to long-term occupancy until we achieve 90% of an estimated $32 million capital campaign,” Mehr wrote. “In fairness to our supporters and donors, it is unreasonable for us to embark on a campaign of this magnitude with such slim assurances from the City of Calgary.” Canadian Art requested comment from the City, but none was provided by press time. CBC and Metro Calgary have provided further coverage.

Calgary artists and arts groups are also demanding that City Hall double civic arts funding. In a demonstration on Monday at Calgary City Hall, a group of roughly 100 asked that those running in the October 16 municipal election pay heed to this growing sector. “The commitment that we’re asking for candidates running for council and candidates running for mayor is to work with Creative Calgary post election to dedicate .7 per cent of the city’s budget to arts funding in the city,” said Creative Calgary board member Irfhan Rawji said in the Calgary Sun.

The Canada Council for the Arts announced this week that it will implement a new system to ensure that projects that include elements of Indigenous culture are not culturally appropriative. The new framework will require non-Indigenous artists and organizations seeking funding to prove to peer assessment committees that “their work aligns with the council’s commitment to respecting and honouring the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to cultural sovereignty.” Council director and CEO Simon Brault told that this hopes to ensure that non-Indigenous artists don’t approach their project from “a colonialist perspective and that there’s a real discussion, there’s a real exchange, there’s a real respect of the rights, protocols and stories of Indigenous people.”

The Carleton University Art Gallery will establish a new position: curator of art by women. Toronto-based artist Jane Martin has arranged in her will for a gift that will enable CUAG to establish a specialized curatorial position, the Jane Martin and Ewen McCuaig Curator of Art by Women. This position, named in honour of Martin and her late husband, musician Ewen McCuaig, will focus on researching, curating, acquiring, publishing and disseminating art made by Canadian women.

The Art Gallery of Ontario’s curator of Canadian art Andrew Hunter has resigned. Hunter >told the Toronto Star he did not resign “with a specific destination in mind.” Hunter curated the AGO’s current critically acclaimed exhibition “Every. Now. Then: Reframing Nationhood” with Anique Jordan and Quill Christie-Peters, and last summer, “The Idea of North,” his touring exhibition of Lawren Harris paintings co-curated with comedian Steve Martin, made its final stop at the AGO in an exhibition that attempted to situate the landscape paintings in the context of the working-class Toronto that Harris spent time in. Hunter has an art practice of his own and has also held curatorial positions at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the University of Waterloo, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and Confederation Centre Art Gallery.

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