Support for digital arts needed from public and private sector

Laurie Gloge started the organization Creative Calgary three years ago with one purpose: to bring creative talent together and put Calgary on the software-development map.

“I believe that creative Calgarians are out there, they just need to find each other,” she said.

She started by bringing Global Game Jam to Calgary — an annual event that takes place in cities around the world where teams compete to formulate and develop a video game in one weekend’s time.

“The first year, people were just coming for the pizza,” Gloge said. “This year we had people with 3-D skill, mentors from the industry and media present.”

Henry Hy participated in the 2012 Global Game Jam in Calgary and was impressed by the high-calibre attendees.

“If I didn’t come, I would never have met some of the people actually working in the (software development) industry,” Hy said, adding that his dream job is to develop video games for a studio.

Luke Azevedo also has worked hard to spur digital art culture in Calgary.Laurie Gloge, founder of Creative Calgary, hopes to put Calgary on the software development map. Maybe one day a Calgarian will be recognized as designing a video game as popular as Angry Birds.
Photo illustration by: Shane Flug

As the commissioner of film, television and creative industries for Calgary Economic Development, he is currently involved in talks with the provincial government for digital arts funding.

“If a great idea with potential for commercial success came out of Global Game Jam, how do you help them?” he asked.

Currently, there is little support in Alberta from the public or private sector.

“In other provinces, one of the areas of growth that is now getting investment from provincial governments is around gaming and [cell phone] apps,” Azevedo said.

He explained that in Ontario and B.C., government incentives have led to big companies like Ubisoft and Electronic Arts moving in and pouring investments into new jobs and infrastructure for the local economies.

Gloge said that she would like to see similar investment in digital design from Alberta’s oil and gas sector.

“We need to diversify our economy,” she said, expressing concerns about Alberta’s heavy economic reliance on fossil fuels.

“Oil and gas aren’t the only resources Alberta has. Creativity and innovation are resources too.”

gpicketts@cjournal.ca