A new Black Lives Matter mural proposed for downtown Calgary is causing some controversy.
City council has approved spending $120,000 on four murals highlighting Black Lives Matter themes, with the first mural planned for the side of a building formerly occupied by the Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS).
It’s proposed that the mural be created by painting over a mural called Giving Wings to the Dream, done by Calgary artist Doug Driediger in 1995.
The image of hands and a dove was inspired by the charitable work CUPS does to serve struggling Calgarians.
“It’s speaking about the disadvantaged and disenfranchised,” Driediger said.
The artist says he’s disappointed that his work will soon be gone.
“(I have) an unease over the idea that something that’s valid and vital would be covered by another artist’s work,” Driediger said. “Surely there should be some professional respect for work that exists, so that just leaves me a little concerned.”
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But a Black community activist says the new mural would have widespread benefits for members of visible minority groups.
“It’s a great effort by the city and a great step toward showing representation of the variety of Calgarians who live in the city,” activist Daudi Kawooya said. “When you look at Calgary murals, not so many visible ethnic groups have a chance to identify with themselves, so once they start seeing themselves, the next question is going to be can they see themselves in leadership positions, can they see themselves in the local office, which is a great way to start conversations and it’s very important.”
Driediger says he’s all for creating Black Lives Matter murals, but he says there are plenty of other sites in Calgary that could be used.
“I don’t want to be in the way of an important message being told at an important time,” Driediger said. “I cautioned the organizers, you know, you might get a bit of backlash by removing something that is so well-liked, even with an excellent alternative going up there.”
Artists have until Aug 17 to submit a proposal for a Black Lives Matter mural on the side of the old CUPS building.
The City of Calgary says it would like the mural to be completed by the end of September 2020.