March 28, 2018 1:06 pm

Have an opinion on Calgary’s public art program? The city wants to hear from you

Traffic passes a sculpture by New York artist Del Geist, which is called "Bowfort Towers" and is located near Canada Olympic Park in Calgary on Aug. 9, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
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City officials are asking Calgarians to weigh in with their opinions on the public art program, months after the controversy around the Bowfort Towers art installation prompted the suspension of the former policy.

The $500,000 installation was originally said to be inspired by Blackfoot culture, but was criticized by Indigenous groups who claimed they weren’t consulted. Seeking to clear the air, the city and Treaty 7 chiefs then released a statement, saying the project was “never meant to be an Indigenous artwork, nor inspired by Indigenous themes.”

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READ MORE: Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Treaty 7 chiefs address ‘misconceptions’ about Calgary’s Bowfort Towers

The public art program came under fire once again when it was revealed the artist behind an installation called SNAPSHOTS in the 4 Street underpass had used photos he did not have the rights to. The $20,000 piece was eventually removed.

In the wake of these scandals and other controversies over the so-called giant blue ring and “poop palace” – a wastewater station lit up with LED lights – the city has launched an online survey that is meant to complement a telephone survey set to be conducted with 500 Calgarians in April.

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In a statement, the city said Calgarians will be asked about “their feelings on public art, awareness and familiarity with the public art process, location process, types of art they would like to see, interest in participating and how they want to hear about public art opportunities.”

Administration said it launched the telephone and online surveys after being directed by council to investigate Calgary’s public art policy.

It said the questions now being put to Calgarians were drafted following conversations with local artists and Calgarians who had participated on selection panels where decisions over public art contracts were finalized.

READ MORE: Does Calgary deserve the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s lifetime achievement for ‘awful art’?

Council will hear recommendations on the public art policy in June.

The online survey is open until April 15.

-With files from Global News’ Heide Pearson

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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