Calgary council to debate art funding, following big blue ring fiasco

CALGARY- With the fiascos over the pricey Peace Bridge and the controversial big blue ring still fresh in Calgarians’ minds, council is set to take another look at how it funds public art.

Currently, one per cent of funding for public construction projects is automatically allocated for art surrounding the sites, but some argue that funding structure isn’t feasible and needs reviewing.

READ MORE: Pricey sculpture nicknamed ‘The Big O’ raises ire of taxpayers

Ward 12 councillor Shane Keating said talks about changing the policy initially came up when they were planning the west LRT expansion.

“We looked at a couple of things, and with the potential cost of the west LRT it came to light that if we were to do exactly what the art policy said, we could be spending tens of millions on single projects, which we can’t afford,” he explained. “The second thing is, the type of installation we were getting—I’m not criticizing the art—but people were asking, ‘is that really what I spent my money on?’”

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On Tuesday, some proposed changes will be presented to city council, which includes the art jury. The idea is to go from a five person jury to seven people, creating a more balanced perspective from both the art community and average taxpaying citizens.

There are also talks about involving the public more, which could include an online vote about certain art pieces.

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