During the Fall of 2012, I had the pleasure of being chosen as a participant for the ‘Citizens’ Reference Panel on Calgary’s Arts Plan’.  It was a four day volunteer commitment to help give CADA some insight on what matters to Calgarians when it comes to art.  36 members were selected randomly and we heard from a wide range of experts, policy-makers and artists.  In the end, we drafted a group recommendation for the YYC Arts Plan.




I was so impressed by the professionalism and enthusiasm of the CADA member, presenters and guests.  It was really an eye opening experience.  Before the experience, I had heard that Calgary was nominated as the ‘Cultural Capital of Canada’ in 2012.  To be honest I was not sure how we achieved that title.  After the 4 days of volunteering, I had a whole new perspective on the art community in Calgary.  There are so many hidden gems that I had no clue about.  Fortunately we had amazing guest speakers there to tell us all about what we have as Calgarians, but most of us didn’t know about!  We had an amazing speech and poem from Kris Demeanor, Calgary Poet Laureate.  His poem was called “The Oyster’s Autobiography”, and what a fantastic poem it was.  We also had Mayor Nenshi stop in and chat with us.


Olympic Plaza

What I really wanted to point out in this post, is that there is a lot of people working very hard in Calgary to create a wonderful place to live.  The CADA members, presenters and guest speakers were all passionate about bringing up the quality of life for Calgarians.  From public art, to galleries, to support for emerging and young artists, these people are committed to making Calgary a place to call home, and not just a place to work in.  I would suggest checking out the CADA website to find out more about what this city has to offer.


Family of Man, by Mario Armengol

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There I was, facing the back entrance of an old building downtown, around 6pm one quiet evening in Calgary.  I wasn’t sure if I had the right place, but I went though the open door anyways.  Immediately, a friendly lady directed me to the elevator, the old style service type with the pull down cage.  “Going Up” she said with a smile. Seconds later, I arrive a few floors up, then walk down the bland white walled hallway into a small room. A few people were seated at a small table with a projector on it, as well as a few snacks and a couple of bottles of wine.  Not exactly the high budget atmosphere I had expected but comforting nonetheless.  I was now curious to see how this lecture would unfold.  To my surprise, the information presented was well worth the small donation I gave them, $10 if I remember correctly.  The guest lecturer, Sharon Stevens, was a wealth of knowledge about the art scene in Calgary.  She gave a fantastic lecture, so I thought I would write a little bit about what I found out and provide a link for any readers interested in attending future lectures.

UAS - Untitled Arts Society

Sharon’s lecture was titled ‘How to win friends and influence people: Getting involved in the Calgary art scene’

Throughout the 2 hr or so lecture, Sharon spoke about and mapped out about 40 or more art related organizations in Calgary.  Anything from Galleries, Art Spaces, Festivals and Centres were talked about.  The interesting thing was, a lot of these places that seemed very interesting and useful, are hidden and I may never have known about them.  There are more organizations than I knew about, as well as more available spaces and opportunities for artists in Calgary.

Here is a link to future events.  There will be lecture notes posted shortly I was told.  It should have a list of all sorts of art related organizations in Calgary.  If it doesn’t appear, feel free to message me on here, or email me, and I can personally send you a copy.  Hopefully it’s as valuable to you as it is to me.



~ Chris