Northeast Calgary residents have their say on future of public art

People in northeast Calgary are being asked what they think the future of public art should look like in their neighbourhoods.

Quadrant has long been underserved when it comes to spending on art projects

There aren’t many examples of public art in northeast Calgary. The city wants to change that by working with the community on new projects that reflect the northeast’s diversity. (City of Calgary)

People in northeast Calgary are being asked what they think the future of public art should look like in their neighbourhoods.

The northeast hasn't seen much investment over the years when it comes to different types of art in public spaces.

A large, futuristic metallic sculpture called the Wishing Well was installed outside the Genesis Centre, but it had to be removed in 2014 after the sun's reflection melted someone's clothing. The art installation was never replaced.

The city says public art plays an important role in shaping modern, vibrant cities as well as building a sense of community and creating more opportunity for residents to engage with their public spaces — and that the northeast needs more examples.

"The initiative is super important because representation matters," said ActionDignity's Badria Abubaker, who worked as a broker between the city and community to gather feedback.

"If people within the northeast communities see art that reflects what they feel like and what they feel would represent them better in the community, that creates a more holistic society and community," she said.

Abubaker spent time reaching out to different groups in the northeast to explain what the initiative is and ask what they'd like to see, directing them to an online survey.

This bench is one of only a few examples of art found in public spaces in northeast Calgary. (City of Calgary)

"People wanted to ask 'why now?' and they were excited they were going to be a part of what art will look like in the northeast," she said.

"Having art that is connected to them is what they were really excited about."

The project will also create more opportunities for artists who live and work in the northeast to take part and have their works considered.

"We're working on bringing several public art opportunities to northeast Calgary," said Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal.

Chahal says the city wanted to hear from the community on what types of art people want, where it would be located and what stories they want the art to tell.

"Compared to other parts of the city, there's a huge gap, and we hope that this helps address some of those inequities," said Chahal.

Residents took part in a survey and online workshops, in a range of different languages, coming to an end on April 19.

Chahal hopes it will lead to some exciting projects in their communities.

The city says the input from the public will now be used to build a plan, timeline and budget.