Disclosure : Wyatt Claypool is a third-year Policy Studies and History student at Mount Royal University, where he serves as the President for its Campus Conservatives. He is also a Conservative board member for Signal Hill.
I like art just as much as the next fellow, but I can’t seem to enjoy much of Calgary’s art installations, especially those built over the past several years.
Nobody I have talked to will ponder this modern art as anything more than the hot garbage we’ve (begrudgingly) grown to “tolerate.” Engaging with these installations is as enticing as a root canal, minus the dental benefits.
They are unappealing to everyone lacking the ridiculous sense of elitism that plagues those involved in the world of modern conceptual art. If Calgarians do not like the art that reflects poorly on the quality of the pieces. Not on Calgarians.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if so few see the beauty, then why spend millions on wacky art projects?
Constructing abstract pieces like it’s going out of style (which I hope it is), has done little to convince Calgarians of their merit, yet spending has never slowed.
Maybe I lack an affinity for the finer things in life. Perhaps it is people like me who are the problem. How dare I question otherwise questionable spending habits?
Half of the city council would prefer an electorate incapable of scrutiny. But thankfully, their delusions of grandeur are stopped in its tracks by everyday citizens concerned with our ability to budget.
Likewise, the littering of our beautiful city is not just to appeal to the niche artistic tastes among the Calgary Arts Development (CAD) board. It is also another attempt to justify bigger budgets each year regardless of the city’s ability to pay, just even more ridiculous than usual.
And you know what they say about bigger budgets? The more one spends, the higher the chance for fiscal mismanagement.
But then again, maybe I’m just another member of the silly masses unable to open my mind to the “woke” subjectivist style. Why is that? Have I become an unforgiving cynic by age 20? A bitter “old man” tired of the garbage we pour millions into?
Yes, I am bitter, but I’m not the cynic here. I do not believe that Calgarians like myself are tasteless, and I certainly do not take for granted taxpayer dollars.
Public art is not a problem. It’s the city’s botched execution.
You may be surprised that Calgary’s junk art installations have names, or at least were not the result of a horrible construction accident.
That blue ring is called Traveling Light, the beams and slate is the accurate but incorrect name for the Bowfort Towers, and the white fire kindling at Rocky Ridge is called Convergence. There are many more but naming them is more effort than it’s worth.
If my problem with these art installations was just that they are tasteless (which is a fact), then I would not feel the need to write on it. The issue here is that this clutter comes with a hefty price tag.
Collectively Traveling Light, Bowfort Towers, and Convergence cost Calgary taxpayers an estimated $1,881,000, and those are just three that caught my attention. It is rare for any of these projects to be less than 100K, even One Puck Hollow (a slight hole with a metal fence around it) cost-productive Calgarians an estimated $150,000. You may have a laugh looking at the completed projects on the city’s website like I did, but make no mistake — we are being ripped off by CAD.
Ironically, after Traveling Light was finished in October of 2013 Mayor Nenshi said the installation was “awful” and a review was commissioned to look into public arts policy.
More money down the drain.
This would have been commendable, but year after year more expensive and equally embarrassing art installations have continued to be unveiled.
Convergence was put up in 2018 ($911,000), and well as those two incomplete drinking birds outside the Calgary Central Library ($2 million) just to name a couple of recent pieces.
I do not believe Mayor Nenshi or city council meant to blunder the oversight of CAD so severely, but they allowed themselves to believe it was an unimportant issue. The money may not be huge, but the fact Calgarians are being made to pay to downgrade the look of their city is important as it proves how city council has gotten used to casual waste of the taxpayer’s money. Although it should be noted that the board of CAD is still the origin of the art installations, not the city council.
Calgary is not precisely unique on its addiction to overpriced public art installations. This is prevalent across the globe. Los Angeles bought a bolder for 10 million dollars to sit above a walkway underpass in front of the LA County Museum of Art. In 2008 Denver had finally unveiled Blue Mustang, often referred to as the “devil horse,” for $650,000 and only twelve years later than expected.
The sickly looking Kirby Tree in the town of Kirby England cost £60,000 ($100,000) which was partly paid for by multinational grocery store chain Tesco which only added to the insult when Tesco scrapped plans to open a supermarket in the town which would have created 800 new jobs. I could list off dozens more of these examples, but you get the picture, plus most of this stuff tends to amount to differently arranged woodpiles.
I believe the reason for the continued assault on the visual senses by publicly funded art installations is two-fold. First, the departments in government that controls grants and supplies contracts to artists for these pieces are incentivized to burn through their budget (much like many other departments) so they can justify yearly increases, or at the very least ward off budget cuts.
Modern conceptual art works well alongside this goal as it can be designed and constructed in relatively short order and the simplistic nature of the pieces means almost any artist can be hired to put together an installation. This way, an art department like CAD can show that they commissioned and build a handful of art installations in a year as if quantity ever outdid quality when it comes to art. CAD keeps getting budget increases, so this haphazard approach to arts development has been working in their favour.
The second reason I see playing a role is an odd liking of this sort of conceptual nonsense in institutions like CAD. Very infrequently do any of these art installations get unveiled and are not met with significant public disapproval, nor is there ever much open public consultation (that would slow them down). Like many insiders in the art world, CAD has, from what I’ve seen, an odd vice for obscurantism, the liking of vagueness or difficulty to understand, which is a particular toxic characteristic inherent in modern conceptual art.
The fact so many dull and meaningless installations are built despite general public disdain for the style proves gross ignorance to feedback or, what I think is more likely, a disdain for Calgarians as not being as cultured and sophisticated as the board members of CAD. An emperor’s new clothes situation if I have ever seen one.
The CAD board is willing to overpay by several factors to instill a greater sense of importance in the art they like. If a blue ring is $477,000, then there must be something the public is missing when they criticize the piece. If we had only paid a few thousand for Traveling Light then in the eyes of CAD, it would lose its artistic merit and probably the name.
It all begs the question, not taking quality into account, why should Calgary’s arts development team be headed by people who do not reflect Calgarians taste in art? The short answer is we shouldn’t. A city’s institutions should reflect the priorities of the residence.
Careless art spending is a symptom of poor budgeting
In November of 2018 not only was the 2019 arts budget doubled, but an extra $5 million was also added on top. Despite this only amounting to a percent of infrastructure spending, this wasted art installation spending represents funding that could have been used for services Calgarians need or at least money that could have been saved by taxpayers.
In part, a $9-million hit to essential services is used to offset the apathy within the city council. Cutting costs is the unfortunate reality of living in a world where scarcity exists. However, that doesn’t mean our councillors can’t be more prudent with our tax dollars.
With the city council spending $200-million more on average with every succeeding year, we fall deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of punishing the masses for the incompetence of the elected few.
The economic hurt felt by many Calgarians does not lie solely at council’s feet, although their refusal to adjust accordingly is purely owned by them at this stage.
Specifically, the 15 percent hike in property taxes from 2017 to 2018 hurt many. Yet, there’s no tenable long-term solution in sight.
With a downtown vacancy rate of 25%, the burden of property taxes has shifted to small business and residential units. The “downtown tax-shift” was the result of a $250-million shortfall caused by the most recent recession.
Appallingly enough, the $60-million tax relief to businesses is being hampered by Mayor Nenshi who claims it is going “too hard” into the city’s annual budget. Well, that’s funny. Perhaps, it is the taxpayers who find city council hitting their family budgets ‘too hard.’
After succeeding years of a 2.5 percent increase in annual salary, the mayor and city council graciously reduced their wages by a whopping 0.08 percent for 2018. For Mayor Nenshi, that’s a salary reduction of $160.60 per annum and $90.73 for the rest of the city council.
The need for our city council to find savings is paramount, and I can find no reason why CAD should not be at the top of the list.
It should be plainly obvious that if Calgarians are in need of tax relief then concurrently our need for public art projects should fall, pretending we ever approved of CAD’s spending practices, even when times were good.
But again, we got what we voted for, and the cost was extensive. When sensible economics takes a back seat to “feel good” politics, what we end up with doesn’t feel all that good on our wallets.
Over the last week, major parts of Canada’s infrastructure have been at a standstill due to blockades erected by activists opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline being built in Northern British Columbia.
In Vancouver Island, protesters erected barricades to stop cars from accessing public highways. In Vancouver proper, 57 demonstrators were arrested after judges granted an injunction to remove a blockade that had stopped workers from entering the Port of Vancouver.
Likewise, in Ontario, protestors decided to occupy the office of the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations in Toronto—chanting slogans like, “Canada is an illegitimate, violent, colonialist state.”
More worryingly, however, demonstrators blocked the train tracks in Belleville, Ontario, bringing all freight and passenger trains between Canada’s two largest cities and the nations capital to a halt.
The protests have effectively paralyzed Canada’s infrastructure. As a result of this, and with the Conservative Party’s leadership election picking up steam, Canadians deserve to know where the prospective leaders of Canada’s official opposition stand on the issue of the day.
When The Post Millennial reached out to Gladu, she stated that “this is an illegal protest and the rule of law must be enforced.”
“Keep in mind many of the activists are not even from this region or First Nation people. While we must consult and take action to address First Nations concerns, the rule of law is paramount as is the safety of Canadians,” Gladu added.
Erin O’Toole has made his stance clear on both Twitter and in a comment to The Post Millennial, telling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “stop the illegal blockades.”
When O’Toole spoke to The Post Millennial, the Durham MP said, “We need to be telling Canadians why our natural resource and energy projects are in the national interest. Justin Trudeau has waffled on why the resource sector is important. He never sells Canada’s position as an energy superpower in the world. And now look where we are.”
O’Toole went on to add that he saw “people are using #ShutDownCanada and accusing the RCMP of apartheid, which is ridiculous and an insult to our brave men and women in uniform. There are protests escalating to blockades that stop people from going to work or seeing their families.”
“This is extremely disruptive and we must enforce court injunctions. The rule of law must be upheld.”
Rick Peterson has been vocal about his policy platform, and he is similarly vocal in his comments over #ShutDownCanada.
“The world is watching and waiting to see how Canada reacts. Will the Liberal government defend the rule of law? Will it stand up to those who disrupt, delay and try to kill responsible resource development with illegal protests?”
“It’s clear what the response should be. Clear the tracks. Now. Any delay in getting this done will only encourage more of the same. It is time to be bold,” said Peterson.
Peter MacKay has not yet made a comment on the recent #ShutDownCanada protests, nor did he respond to The Post Millennial’s messages in time for this article’s publication.
MacKay has also stated on Twitter that he welcomed the Trans Mountain Pipeline. MacKay further added, “The removal of any remaining barriers to the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline is great news for Alberta.”
Liberal Transport Minister Marc Garneau is “very concerned” by the anti-pipeline protestors who have blocked the tracks between Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal, according to CBC News.
These protests have crippled Canada’s infrastructure, particularly due to the fact that the protestors are blocking one of the busiest intersections of the countries transport network.
The protestors have blocked the tracks in Bellville, Ontario, which serves as the epicentre for all routes between Canada’s two largest cities and the capital of the nation. All passenger trains and freight trains have been blocked.
CN has chosen to shut down all train travel until the dispute is resolved, despite the fact that the train company received an injunction to remove the protestors from the tracks.
These protests have effectively shut down all passenger travel between these cities, and are having a significant impact on the transport of food and commercial goods. The effect on the economy if this blockade continues will be severe.
These protests have been ongoing since Thursday when demonstrators began to gather at the tracks. Since then, the protests have only gained more traction and attracted more demonstrators to the scene.
The demonstrators say that they are standing in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en chiefs. However, the northern B.C.First Nation officially supports the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
So far, Via Rail has had to cancel 157 trips in the Toronto-to-Montreal corridor: 24,500 passengers have been affected.
Most Ontarians are not for the government raising teachers’ salaries by 2 percent according to a poll formulated by The Star. Most people, however, do agree with the education unions on things like the number of students in a classroom and e-learning.
The opt-in poll was made by Campaign Research and included 1,536 people. It ran from Feb 6 to 9.
Nick Kouvalis, the principal strategist at Campaign Research said that most people “do not want to give the teachers a more than 1 percent raise,” and added, “but teachers should be encouraged that the public is still with them during these rotating strikes.”
The poll shows that 45 percent of people disagree with the teachers’ request of a 2 percent salary increase—opposing the 1 percent cap set in place by the government. Only 35 percent of people agree with teachers while 13 percent do not support either side and 8 percent are unsure.
Just 12 percent of people believe that teachers should not receive any pay increase while 32 percent support a 1 percent increase. Another 9 percent of the public believe that the teachers should receive an increase of more than 2 percent.
The public does not disagree with teachers on all issues though. While the government wants 2 of the 30 classes required by high school students to be taken online, teachers believe that the 30 classes should all be taken in the school classroom. The poll shows that 52 percent of the public agree with teachers on this issue while 28 percent disagree.
The public also agrees with teachers that the number of students per classroom should not be raised. The government wants to raise the amount of students per class to raise from 22.5 to 25. The poll finds that 52 percent of the public also agrees with teachers on this subject while 36 percent agree with Ontario’s government.
A cruise ship that has been stuck at sea after there were passengers discovered to have coronavirus is getting a little help from an adult website to entertain them while they’re quarantined: some skin flicks.
Approximately 7,300 passengers aboard the Diamond Princess and World Dream cruise have been stranded and docked Hong Kong and Japan as a direct result of the coronavirus epidemic.
251 Canadians are docked in Japan after it was announced on Sunday, that six more people tested positive for the virus. The cruise ship now has a total of 70 cases onboard with the remaining passengers stuck on board and quarantined with little to do for entertainment.
CamSoda, a Miami-based pornography company has offered quarantined passengers full complimentary access to their webcam services according to Fox Business reports.
Daryn Parker is CamSoda’s vice president and he elaborated on the decision in a statement to the press, “They are not only dealing with the fear of infection, which is terrifying, but boredom,” stated the release. “We like cruises just as much as the next guy, but without activities or human interaction, the boredom must be crippling.”
“In an effort to keep their minds off of the coronavirus and to help with the boredom, we’re offering passengers and crews the ability to have fun in a safe and controlled environment with camming.”
“Camming” is a more interactive approach to traditional pornography whereby individuals can perform in front of their webcam at home or in a studio for a live audience and the viewers pay for the experience through tips and site tokens. There is also the ability to chat in real-time with the sex worker.
CamSoda is asking that passengers and crew aboard the cruise to send them proof of travel documents via email to [email protected] according to the New York Post. CamSoda will then respond by sending the individual 1,000 free tokens which can be used to pay for the webcam live-stream performers.