On Nenshi, public art and bullshit.

Public art in Calgary is back in the news again. This is not surprising as the public arts program in Calgary is nothing less than an embarrassing and expensive catastrophe. Countless pieces of grossly overpriced and ugly “art” are commissioned from artists all over the world (rarely local) and placed in locations where few people can see and admire them (if indeed there is anything to be admired).

Every year we see an explosion as one wretched piece of expensive public art hits the news and every year Nenshi pays lip service to reforming the system while not actually doing anything about it.

It is time that more than words are applied to this terrible program. With the tens of millions spent, Calgary could indeed be on its way to being an arts center worthy of visiting to see the displays. Instead the arts are generally an embarrassment.

Nenshi has moved on into blatant bullshit territory in his defense of the latest art scandal in Calgary. At first Nenshi called critics of the piece a lynch mob. Nenshi then spoke of how they consulted natives and implied that this was native inspired art. Today Nenshi is claiming that the piece has utterly nothing to do with natives. Nenshi is tying himself into knots as he trips over bullshit of his own fabrication as he tries to do everything possible to maintain Calgary’s public arts program without changing it.

Shane Keating and Sean Chu have put forward a motion to suspend funding on arts until a proper system can be built.  The Mayor has signed on to this motion as well but it will take follow through in order to make change. 

The Mayor used the word “tweak” when speaking of changing the policy. It needs a hell of a lot more than that.

Its election season folks. There is no better time to pressure candidates to do the right thing. We know Nenshi wont change anything, but with the right set of councilors the system can be changed despite the Mayor’s objections.

Ask your candidates where they stand on Calgary’s public arts policy and vote appropriately.

Otherwise, we will see these annual, expensive embarrassments continue.

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