Published in the Calgary Herald on December 11, 2018.
Now the real work begins.
The recent decision by Calgary city council to increase funding to Calgary Arts Development is to be commended. As was shared by the funding agency’s board chair (Opinion: Arts is crucial to recovery and growth in Calgary), our city’s evolution into becoming an even more resilient, innovative economy relies on the vibrancy of the arts. But now the real work begins – and Calgary Arts Development will be under an increasing microscope to ensure that increased investments in the arts are made in a strategic, yet meaningful way. Though they are two separate funding pots per se, the ongoing criticisms related to our city’s public art policies and projects mean it’s even more important to ensure that the arts are supported in ways that bring communities together – not further separate them away.
It is my hope that serious consideration will be made to bridge the gaps that currently exist in Calgary’s arts communities – those between large and small arts organizations, non-disabled and disabled artists, artists across races and sexual orientations, and Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists and groups. This additional investment should not simply be an “across the board” increase to all recipients of Calgary Arts Development funding (which would frankly exacerbate the gaps), but should be seen as an opportunity to completely transform our sector in a way that will truly revitalize the arts, make it accessible for all, and showcased in a way that puts Calgary on the world stage. Organizations like Indefinite Arts Centre stand ready to contribute our ideas and vision to this end.
Jung-Suk (JS) Ryu is the CEO of Indefinite Arts Centre, Canada’s oldest and largest disability arts organization.