Calgary city councillor Druh Farrell ‘tired of defending’ public art policy

Bowfort Towers art project on Bowfort Road in Calgary. Global News

One of Calgary city council’s most vocal supporters of the arts unleashed a late-Friday afternoon tweet storm to question how the city’s public art policy is being implemented in light of the uproar over the Bowfort Towers art installation.

“I’m tired of defending the public art policy because of missteps,” Druh Farrell tweeted. “What were they thinking?”

“Calgarians have a right to be upset. They should be. I’m upset.”

READ MORE: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he ‘hasn’t seen’ Bowfort Towers

Farrell said she tried to make changes to the public art policy when it was last updated in 2014 “to avoid this exact kind of thing.”

“Why does the city keep getting it wrong,” she asked. “Either the changes weren’t implemented or clearly didn’t go far enough.”

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Farrell said the role of public art is not to be controversial.

“Just like great architecture, a public art piece shouldn’t need to be explained to be appreciated,” she wrote.

Farrell also addressed the controversy surrounding allegations of cultural appropriation with the Bowfort interchange installation.

“If we’re going to use Indigenous symbols, use Indigenous artists. Bloody hell, that’s just basic,” she said.

READ MORE: Tsuut’ina Nation wants to see Bowfort Towers art installation redesigned

On Thursday, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was of the understanding that a traditional Blackfoot knowledge-keeper was consulted as part of the project.

In an interview with News Talk 770, Farrell said she wants to see the errors of the public art policy fixed.

“I think it’s time to go out to the public and ask them what they want to see,” she said. “When we build public art, let’s put it where people can see it.”

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