4Organization champions the arts as a crucial component to a successful city

From visual artists to photographers and performers — whether your discipline is film, graphics or writing — more and more emerging artists are championing the need for additional public art spaces in our city.

 It’s no secret that artist studios and creation spaces are limited and high-priced in Calgary. Art space initiatives coordinator Deeter Schurig said, “Artists need an affordable and appropriate place to create and show their work.

“More often than not it is very difficult for new artists to find these spaces.”

Schurig is part of an art space initiatives group and is responsible for the development of art spaces, both long and short term. Effectively, Calgary Arts Development has partnered with Calgary Municipal Land Corporation to secure affordable studio, performance and gallery spaces for artists.

The Seafood Market located in The East Village, S.E., is a building slated for demolition sometime next year.


Photos of East Village, Seafood Market artist studio space

Photo provided by Calgary Arts Development

“Rather than having a building sit idly, we are making use of that building for art,” Schurig said.

Calgary Arts Development has recently signed another six-month agreement with the municipal corporation to extend this term. “We have close to 50 artists there right now, and the space is projected to be in use until this spring,” he said.

“Everyone from musicians and designers to photographers, theatre groups and film shoots are working there.”

One of the top goals for Calgary Arts Development is to ensure affordable prices for all artists. Fees for spaces are generally made manageable for their income range.

“Typically, where it may cost $60 per square feet, artists may end up paying a dollar per square feet,” Schurig said.


“It is a really great initiative,” said local artist Eric Moschpopedis. Photos of East Village, Seafood Market artist studio space

Photo provided by Calgary Arts Development

“I have long been a fan of temporary spaces. I don’t think they just fill a gap in the needs of artists but they continually provide a fresh beginning for people.”

Founder and CEO of Calgary Arts Development Terry Rock said the organization came as a result of an arts policy the city adopted in 2004.

“I had been working with the city as a consultant, and essentially the plan was to create this organization and help Calgary develop key art initiatives,” Rock said.

Calgary city council also agrees with Rock’s vision on needed art spaces. In a blog posting, and citing Imagine Calgary, Rock said it is imperative to allocate public dollars to continue building Calgary as “a great place to make a great living, a great place to make life.”

One of the organizations key projects is the purchasing of the King Edward School in Marda Loop. “This is our first major project to be kept in the public realm hopefully for the next 100 years,” Rock said.

“We are very close to finalizing the purchase agreement for the school,” Rock added.

The building is a much larger historic sandstone school and is approximately 40,000 sq. ft. in size. Rock said this location will have multiple layers of different usage. It will be utilized as an arts office, cultural and social space.


Photo provide by Calgary Arts Development

As for projects on the horizon Rock said, “The downtown core is the cultural cluster. This is where the iconic and flag ship buildings like Glenbow Museum are; however we are looking to expand cultural arts to all areas of the city.”

He added that one of the predominant projects under development is The Art and Cultural Center on International Avenue, N.E.

“Besides libraries and churches there are no art spaces in N.E. Calgary currently. This is a great addition and a priority for us,” Rock said.

Calgary Folk Festival Hall, Mount Royal University Conservatory and The Nickel Arts Museum are also projects that are currently underway. These locations will be utilized as gallery and performance spaces for artists.

Rock said he is enthused Calgarians have shown such awareness on these initiatives. Art advocates who are interested in partaking in the cultural space investment process can find more information on the website calgaryartsdevelopment.com.


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