Artist in Residence Program looking to connect the arts into everyday life with city-wide celebrations

One of the main initiatives to kick off Calgary being named the Cultural Capital of Canada this year is an Artist in Residence Program. Started by Calgary 2012 – a non-profit arts and culture organization – the program is designed to connect artists and historians to other aspects of Calgary’s diverse identity.

 Lauren Simms, program specialist from Calgary 2012, said that the program is a fantastic opportunity for arts and culture to be integrated into the everyday lives of Calgarians.

If Calgary wasn’t on the radar screen before, being named the cultural capital this year may be the final push to put the city on the arts-scene map.

Ken Cameron, 42, a local playwright said, “There is often a misconception from people who do not live in our city that it is in the middle of nowhere – a ‘backwater’ place with not a lot of culture going on.

“Being named the cultural capital of 2012 is fabulous.

“It draws attention to the culture that is already present and happening in Calgary. The capital year will be helpful in breaking down previous stereotypes of our city,” Cameron said.

Cameron added that many of his out-of-town friends have been blown away by the number of public art spaces available – the quality of art being made and the amount of artists there are here in Calgary.

Program persuades public interaction

Karen Ball, executive director at Calgary 2012, said that the funding for the program is a result of Calgary 2012’s bid for the cultural capital title, which brought the municipal support of the project to $2 million.

“The idea behind the program is for Calgarians and artists to share the kind of spaces that you might not normally see.

“Artist residences will generally have some kind of public front, and can be unexpected in terms of artist performances and the spaces they show up in.”

She said that the main concept of the project is for artists to create in a way where they are talking, meeting and discussing with the public about the kind of work they are doing.

Ball said that venue spaces could include anything from a football stadium during a game or a lobby of a business establishment.

The funding for the Artist in Residence Program is intended to be used for:

• Paying artists for their work and time

• Covering necessary material costs

• Supporting costs for an artist’s workshop or class

Ball said, “We will invest up to $5,000 in material costs for the artist. An example of this would be a visual arts piece that requires specific resources.

She added that if an artist were to do a public presentation like teaching a class or a workshop, up to $3,000 would be covered.

“We are gearing toward more public engagement with artists this year – pro-active workshops like a dance artist teaching a class at a public venue is what we are looking for,” Ball said. Ken Cameron, a local playwright is applying to the Artist in Residence Program.
Photo Courtesy of: Ken Cameron.

Cameron said that he is quite interested in the program and will be applying this year.

“Because artists tend to be separated from the everyday activities of the general populace, many people think of the arts as something that is made by professionals and not as something that is made by us.

“One hundred years ago, if we wanted to listen to some music we would sit in our parlour with our friends and play the piano. Now we download or buy a CD made by a ‘professional.’”

Cameron said he is excited for the project because it plugs the public back into what is going on and allows people to get a sense that art happens in everyday life, not just in a studio somewhere.

How to get involved

Calgary 2012 is currently accepting applications from artists of all disciplines – the program will run from April 1, 2012 to Feb. 28, 2013.

Ball said, “We are looking at artists from: dance, literary arts, new media, theatre, visual arts, and multi-disciplined work. Already we have had all that come forward in applications.”

“Anyone who is interested in becoming a host for the project can also apply. They simply need to tell us what kind of space they have, the timeframe they can host for and how public the space is.”

She said that the organization is also looking for cultural ambassador applicants who are connected to the arts in their community – people who can share and provide tools to take cultural capital into neighbourhoods.

“The Artist in Residence Program is the ‘how’ for artists to get us there. The ‘who’ is yet to be determined,” Ball said.

In March 2012 the organization will formally launch its full program itinerary and release the names of all artists and hosts who were chosen for the project.

The deadline for artists to apply is Jan. 20. All applicants interested in The Artist in Residence Program can apply here.

aip@cjournal.ca