We have just over a day before the polls open for the municipal election.
Being an arts based blog we are interested in the arts and providing the support that the arts need to survive and thrive.
Fortunately, we have had lots of opportunity to discuss the arts in Calgary during this election campaign. Not all campaigns are this fortunate. Most notably it is because of the big blue ring which happened to be installed near the airport right in the middle of the campaign. It also got good coverage from all news outlets, both positive and negative, including a number of front page stories.
We very much like the fact that people are talking about art whether they like it or not.
We are also of the opinion that in the arts, all publicity is good. There is no bad publicity – only opinions that are uneducated or ignorant (as in, lacking knowledge or awareness in general). These opinions serve to remind us that there is always more work to be done in educating the population at large about how important culture is to the integral fabric of any society, whether historically or contemporary.
With that in mind, a friend of the blog drew attention to one the mayoral candidates (Jon Lord’s) comments on public art which he posted to his personal facebook page, about a week ago. It is posted above and seemingly provides his personal guidance on how much support should be provided to public art in Calgary and what form it should take (more or less).
He indicated which community a mural by Daniel Weisgerber is located in to support his comments. Using google maps and a bit of investigative research and sleuthing we were able to see what $800 will get for public art. Here is the image (or at least the image we suspect is the most likely possibility).
Sadly, the image quality is not very good, so it is somewhat hard to tell exactly what it looks like and we don’t know what type of work the artist does, although it would seem to be a landscape-based composition with grain elevators(?). Because we have scale based on a vehicle, a doorway, and a person walking down the street, we can guesstimate it is probably around eight feet square and we will use that measurement for our purposes.
The mural is 64 square feet in size, which works out to $12.50 a square foot (all in). Doing a quick online search we found a local commercial indoor painter that charges $2.00/sq. ft. (labour only). Whether that is on the low end or the high end, we don’t know, but will assume the lower end as the term “value” was part of the company name.
In the spirit of education, and to speak to that, let’s see what that $800 gets:
- The commercial interior house painter using the numbers above would charge $128 (plus paint). Because it is such a small area to be covered, they probably have a base-line minimal charge just to show up on site which covers set-up and take-down, materials, travel and the minimal three hours to pay their employees – so let’s say $250 as a result.
- An important consideration is that the mural is located outside and would require more work to prepare than inside.
- The other consideration is the quality of paints. Artist paints are not inexpensive, and house paint is very cheap by comparison.
- Then you must consider that the muralist paints to create an image with a brush which involves blending, composition, planning and probably research and preliminary sketches to get the image that is satisfactory to the client; whereas the commercial interior painter simply uses a roller to cover a wall typically using the one colour the client wants, without detail or shading.
- Commercial painters have a reasonable expectation to have a job most days if their pricing or skills are competitive and they want to work. Muralists will not have the same demand for their services and it would be sporadic at best, so pricing typically would be higher as a result.
Just a personal observation, based on that alone, it would seem that whomever commissioned this mural probably did not pay enough or the artist did not charge enough. Nonetheless, it is a moot point.
There is still time to ask your candidates what their positions are on the issues that matter to you. Check your candidate’s platforms to see where they stand on things like the arts. Also be aware of the resources available as some organizations will ask the candidates questions on your behalf.
In this context, it is a proper time to mention ArtsVote Calgary. They ask all candidates (Mayor, Councillor, public and separate school trustees) common questions with an arts focus. Not all candidates have responded – Jon Lord being one of them (and for this reason alone, why his comments were included above and discussed).
The questions asked by ArtsVote Calgary of all candidates is as follows:
- 1. If elected, what are some steps that you will take to address the following issues currently affecting the arts in Calgary?
- a. Live arts performances, art exhibitions, and public art displays are largely concentrated in the inner-city and may not be accessible by all Calgarians.
- b. Many young Canadian artists are attracted to life and careers in other municipalities, in part because of the high cost of living of Calgary and lack of affordable housing.
- 2. When travelling as an elected representative or hosting out-of-town visitors, how would you promote the arts scene in Calgary? How would you describe the strengths of Calgary’s arts community?
- 3. How do you engage in, participate in and/or support the arts in Calgary? Please feel free to share an experience in the city at large or in your own constituency.
The results are posted in links provided on this page http://artsvotecalgary.ca/municipal-survey-responses
On a unrelated side note, there is also an excellent overview of the politics in this election. It is a long read, but gives very interesting and balanced analysis about the Manning Centre/Nenshi dynamic. Review it here http://brianfsingh.com/2013/10/20/calgarys-civic-election-of-2013-why-did-manning-get-involved/
Please take the time to review.
Get out and vote.
Make your voice heard.