CTV News Calgary Latest Videos
Nenshi wants to see change in Calgary’s policy on public art
Published Friday, August 11, 2017 12:03PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, August 11, 2017 6:46PM MDT
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is weighing in on the public art debate for the first time since the controversial Bowfort Towers was unveiled near Canada Olympic Park.
While he hasn’t personally seen the piece, constructed from steel beams and several pieces of Rundle rock from a quarry west of the city, Nenshi says that it’s clear the city’s art policy needs to change.
The city unveiled the Bowfort Towers on August 3 and public reaction to the art was swift and stinging, with many questioning the $500,000 price tag while others raised concerns about cultural sensitivity.
First Nations people in southern Alberta have said the piece bears a striking resemblance to indigenous burial sites.
Nenshi says he hasn’t formed an opinion on the art yet but says that from all the complaints he’s seen, it is apparent that there’s a problem with Calgary’s policy regarding public art.
He did call the harsh criticism ‘unfair’ and compared it to a ‘lynch mob’.
Nenshi says the sculpture contains deep roots in the Blackfoot culture and the piece was thoroughly vetted by aboriginal experts.
“There was not just a traditional knowledge keeper, but a particularly skilled knowledge keeper whose expertise is in Blackfoot archaeology and symbolism who had been consulted on this particular project. So, again, the city followed the indigenous policy consultation to a ‘T’.”
Currently, all public art is chosen by a panel of seven members, with six of those being civilian volunteers.
The mayor says that that isn’t enough of a conversation with Calgarians. He thinks there should be more consultation and looks forward to seeing any of the motions brought forward by his colleagues when council meetings resume in September.