Skatepark Public Art Project

Calgary skateboarders are wanted to participate in a community public art project. Artists Eric & Mia asked local skaters to send a selfie and answer a few questions to be featured in their skate zine, the first of four art projects for the construction of Calgary's new skateparks. The zine aims to demonstrate that skaters come in all ages, income levels and live all over the city.

Calgary artists Eric & Mia consulted and worked with The City design team (external consultants and City staff) of the Skateboard Amenities Strategy to explore creative visioning for the overall park designs, determine the scope of possibilities for public art within the selected sites, and develop and implement a project plan based on those possibilities. Community-based and temporary public art initiatives are desired.

Public Art Budget: $30K​
Year Approved: ​2014
​Artist: ​Eric & Mia
Completion: 2017

Artists’ Statement of Approach

We envision a process that emphasizes engagement as a form of creative research. Already we have questions that will act as guiding principles: we wonder what different stakeholders in the project want, what they need, and what they imagine they would never be allowed to have? How can we work collaboratively with stakeholders to generate not only ideas for art works, but perhaps even the art works themselves? It is our hope that by applying our practice of creating art and social engagement to the research process of this project we will arrive at a work, or series of works, that is representative of the community from which it arose. This might mean that we will create something that can be seen (a sculpture, for instance) or a work that is ephemeral and exists only as relationships between individuals.


We started our engagement process by asking: what does a citizen skater look and act like in Calgary? The answers we found were both anticipated and surprising, cliché and unpredictable. We learned that skaters as citizens shape the city through both formal and informal processes; that skaters are integrated into many different networks and communities; that their presence in the city both while skateboarding and in their “daily lives” have impact on the culture of place; and that there is an etiquette to skating that suggests camaraderie and inclusiveness. Skaters are a creative bunch who continually expect more of themselves, the community and the city. We wondered how we might work with the skate community to advance these goals.

We met with several members of the skateboard community citywide and with folks from the eight neighbourhoods where the parks are to be built. Common concerns emerged out of these conversations:

  1. that the parks need a diversified group of users;
  2. that trust between the skaters and the surrounding communities needs to be strengthened;
  3. that regulating the parks needs to be a shared responsibility between users and non-users.

Working with the theme of “creating capacity, creating trust,” we have created three projects and a legacy component that address each of the numbered points above. Designed in consultation with members of the skate community and different community associations, these projects are generative and collaborative. We are excited by the way in which the projects propose alternative ways for stakeholders to engage one another in around the parks.

Documentation, Legacy Project

The projects we are proposing are about relationships and experiences, and they have been designed specifically to generate new ways of engaging others in and around the skate parks. Other than a newspaper and an embroidered patch (that perform largely unseen tasks), there will be very little physical material at the end of the process. In this regard, it is important that the projects be carefully documented so that we can create a legacy for the work. It is our intention to create a video and a small publication that helps to share with stakeholders and others what took place and how the projects laid a foundation for possible future results.

Eric and Mia Skateboard amenities strategy public art project artists​


"Skaters from around here and elsewhere" Newspaper

We started this process with the false perception that skaters and park users were going to be largely teenagers. This is a perception shared by many of the different folks we met from the neighbourhoods where the new skateboard parks are being built. Of course, the skateboard community is much more diverse—with users occupying different genders, ages and socio-economic positions. We want to convey this information to residents by introducing them to skaters in their neighbourhood and from across Calgary. To do this we are creating a newspaper (think of it as a “yearbook”) that will profile park users—particularly from the skate community. By putting a face and a name to a person, we hope to dispel some myths about skateboarders and skate culture.

Skate School for Women

With this project we are looking to increase the number of women users at the new skate parks and within the skateboard community city wide. The hope is to create a core group of skaters who will skate together on a regular basis and become leaders and mentors for other women of all ages in the community. At the end of the course we will work with the participants to create a mandate or plan of action to engage young women and to encourage participation in skateboarding. To accompany the plan we will collaboratively design a “logo” that represents female skaters in Calgary. The logo will be turned into an embroidered patch that mentors can distribute to other women skaters at parks throughout the next year, or as long as supplies last, as a way of showing solidarity.

Skate School for Police Officers

Skate School for Police Officers will be a key piece of engagement for the new skate parks. We are looking to run a one-time skateboard workshop for police officers—particularly Community Resource Officers and School Resource Officers. The workshop will be run by three qualified instructors—two teenagers and one adult—who will teach the participating officers the basics of skateboarding: balance, pushing, stopping, turning, ollie, and ramp riding.

At the end of the course officers will keep their equipment and skateboards and will have the skills to confidently use the new skateboard parks. It is our hope that by bringing together the skateboard community and neighbourhood police that long-lasting relationships might be forged through a meaningful shared experience. We love the idea that officers can engage the city’s youth at the new skateboard parks as skaters. We love the idea that officers will keep their skateboard in their office at a high school or in the trunk of their patrol cars and when time permits, engage the community and the city’s youth at the new skateboard parks and elsewhere in the city.

The Artists

Calgarians Eric& Mia have been collaborators since the mid-2000s. Together they have developed a catalogue of community-specific and participatory works in a post-gallery context. Their interest and use of public space, participation, intervention, performance and radical crafting as a way of interrogating local day-to-day life has been primary to their practice. They have presented projects, workshops and lectures in Canada, the United States and Europe.