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Public Art Policy Review - New Direction

The public art program is under review. We are looking to improve transparency and flexibility to show value for money and create efficiencies in our artist selection process. Working with partners and stakeholders, we identified focus areas to support our goals.

Earlier this year (2019), Administration presented an update to Council about the Public Art program review. Council approved the following points presented from our report:

  • Create a pooled capital funding structure, where all designated public art money from capital infrastructure projects (1 per cent per project) will be transferred into one fund. This is a change from the current structure where designated public art money is tied to a specific capital project.
  • •Community needs will be a main priority in decision making. This means a more holistic and equitable approach to public art projects.
  • Every four years, we will identify eligible capital funding opportunities across The City and put one per cent in a pooled account focusing on community priorities.
  • Improve our accountability, transparency and flexibility in decision-making processes related to integrating public art in our landscapes.

We continue working through five focus areas, as part of the Program’s New Direction:

New Funding Structure

A pooled funding model was approved by Council in March 2019. The funds in this new account will align with eligible capital infrastructure funding, and will fluctuate from one business cycle to the next, in tandem with capital infrastructure spending.

We’re currently developing a strategy to allocate these capital funds through public art projects in a meaningful way.

Contracts and Purchasing

Over the past several months, we’ve hosted working group sessions with Calgary-based artists to better understand the challenges and opportunities of our commissioning process. We continue engaging with stakeholders and partners such as the Public Art Indigenous Guiding Circle and international artists who previously worked with us. We are gathering their feedback, specifically about their experience with our procurement process. Details of our discussions and subsequent improvements will be shared on an ongoing basis through our Public Art newsletter.


On July 30, 2019, the Public Art Board supported Council’s decision to suspend the Board’s Terms of Reference until Administration reports back with a new strategy in Q1 2020. Council and Administration would like to acknowledge the board members for their tireless efforts in support of the program review. We’ll continue to connect with past board members and other key stakeholders to revise the Terms of Reference and align the Board’s mandate with our new strategy.

In addition, we are working with all departments to create an internal advisory group of subject matter experts to ensure corporate alignment and oversight.

Communications and Engagement

We are continuing to pilot a variety of ways to communicate public art program information with a variety of audiences.

Partnerships and Private Investment

We are working with industry partners and private companies to find new ways of working together. One example is our current partnership with The New Gallery to facilitate an artist residency program in Chinatown as part of the Chinatown Culture Plan.