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Calgary city councillor wants to see end to publicly funded art

Public art installation called Cultivate in the community of Harmony
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Public art installation called Cultivate in the community of Harmony . Harmony Developments Inc.

Several of Calgary’s publicly funded art installations have caused more controversy than conversation. However, a very different public reaction to an art display is playing out just west of Calgary.

Alberta artist Vania Burton lives near the community of Harmony, in Rocky View County where she now works as an ambassador. As an artist, she prides herself on telling prospective buyers about the community’s commitment to art.

READ MORE: U.K. woman says image of her used in Calgary public art display without permission

“When it gets people engaging in their community. I always think it’s a positive thing. The worst thing is indifference,” Burton said.

The art installation at the entrance of the community Harmony is called “Cultivate.” The creation by Seattle artist Dan Corson was two years in the making, weighing over 27,000 pounds and involving more than 30 skilled tradespeople.

The installation was 100 per cent funded by the developer.

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“It’s something that defines the community, through art,” Birol Fisekci, the President and CEO of Bordeaux Developments said of the finished product.

Heavy Industries helped build ‘Cultivate’ and is the same company behind the well-known Wonderland sculpture at Calgary’s Bow Tower.

The concept of privately funded art is not lost on city council. Calgary’s public art policy is still under review following widespread criticism of the Bowfort Towers art installation.

READ MORE: Calgary city council suspends public arts policy

Ward 4 councillor Sean Chu thinks the city should cancel its publicly funded art program altogether.

“Private sector can do everything cheaper and better,” Chu said.

“The city is doing all that stuff and it seems like a waste of money and doesn’t make sense.”

However, councilllor Shane Keating wants to keep Calgary’s art program alive and said the city can improve the current public art policy.

“I have said at council, ‘why does the private sector do it so well and the public sector do it so bad?’” Keating said.

“The public sector has this view, it should be outside the box. What we should be doing is looking at acceptable public art across the board.”

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