Competition fears force art market out of Calgary venue

Calgary's Market Collective recently found out it will not have access to its regular venue for two planned holiday events after complaints from the Kensington Business Association.

Market Collective told to only hold 1 out of 3 events planned after local businesses in Kensington complain

Organizers of a regular arts market in Kensington are urging local business owners to change their minds about limiting the event. (Sally Leung/Market Collective Facebook)

A battle for Christmas shoppers is brewing in the Calgary community of Kensington between local businesses and an arts market that takes place there.

Market Collective — which sells art, crafts, music, photos and clothes — sets up shop in the area about one weekend a month.

But this December, organizers planned for three holiday events. The vendors have been booked and are currently preparing merchandise.

While Market Collective says it was promised three weekends, it's now been told it can only hold one of them.

"We're really rooting for the three weekends that we were promised in December to hold Market Collective," said organizer Angel Guerra. 

Christmas competition fierce

"It's super frustrating being in a position like this," said Guerra.

But Annie MacInnis of the Kensington business revitalization zone says three December fairs isn't fair.

"Kensington is full of small business owners who are competing with each other and with malls and the rest of the city for shoppers," she said. 

"These are our three busiest weekends for shopping and the BRZ is spending a lot of money on Christmas this year and trying to draw shoppers to Kensington and we would like the focus to be on our member businesses."

But Guerra says the some 200 artists she's already booked for Market Collective also depend on the holidays.

"I think that the local businesses work really hard to make Kensington successful all year round and so do we," she said. 

Alternate venue offered

The Calgary Parking Authority is also in the middle of the debate, as it owns the market's regular venue of the Ant Hill Building on 10th Street northwest.

So far it's received tweets, calls and about 200 emails against the decision to not allow Market Collective three weekends at its Kensington venue.

CPA says it did not have an agreement with the Market Collective for the use of the Ant Hill Building for three weekends in December, but if it gained the consent from the current tenant of the building and the Kensington BRZ they would be able to use it.

"The Market Collective failed to obtain the agreement of the BRZ," said CPA in a release.

CPA met with the Kensington BRZ and Market Collective to discuss alternate venues for the upcoming event scheduled for December and Market Collective was offered the complimentary use of a full deck of the Civic Plaza Parkade for three weekends in December.

"We support the arts community and have worked closely with the Market Collective for several years," said Shelley Trigg, CPA manager of communications and customer service. "We thought the option that we presented yesterday was a solution that would work for everyone."

CPA officials said, as of Thursday morning, Market Collective has refused the offer of the complimentary downtown venue on Ninth Avenue southeast.