The future of InvestYYC

InvestYYCLogo

As one of the legacies of Calgary being named one of the final two “Cultural Capital(s) of Canada” during 2012 which it shared with the Niagara Region in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, was the crowd-funding platform InvestYYC.

The concept is great.  Help small local arts organizations or individuals in nine stated categories according to their website, which are listed as culture, dance, film and new media; heritage; literary arts; multidisciplinary; music; theatre; and visual arts and funded by local individuals.

In developing InvestYYC, those involved were obviously looking at other models in the crowd-funding universe such as Kickstarter; Indiegogo, GoFundMe; Fundable and a whole bunch more that are still being developed worldwide.

It is a concept that should have resonance with the local marketplace since the theory is that it draws upon the resources of individuals that are most interested in seeing a proposal succeed; it does not add additional draw on tax-based revenue; and creates self-sufficiency and fund-development among the groups that are seeking funding; and requires no further ongoing subsidy to arts organizations.  These are all values that I regularly read are considered to be important and valued by non-profit organizations in newspapers, the media, government and funders in a “small-C conservative city” that is also a major financial centre in Canada.

When I look at the InvestYYC website I noticed that this platform has done well for some organizations in the past.  This was helped along by the Calgary Arts Development Authority which created a $50,000 pool where CADA would match donor contributions which began on February 26, 2013 in the twilight days of Calgary 2012.

Some of the successful organizations that used this platform were Wreck City; i-Robot Theatre at Beakerhead; a stage performance entitled Citizens of the World; a contemporary dance performance entitled Thin Places and others.  It has definitely served an important purpose in the year or so that it has been operational.

Currently there are four campaigns which are active – two of which are flood related, one for Sled Island which was deeply affected as the festival began the day the flood began; and the other is the Alberta Arts Flood Rebuild fund.  The Arts Rebuild fund also was involved in the recently ended ArtRise fundraiser that also helped out the Elephant Artist Relief (see http://www.elephantartistrelief.com/) at the Art Gallery of Calgary which had some beautiful artwork donated that wrapped-up, after a delay a few months ago, two days ago.

There are two other projects a literary project and a music project connected to the Calgary Wind Symphony.

In this context, this morning I read with interest, today’s issue of the Financial Post.  On the front page just below the fold is a story entitled “Equity crowd-funding planned; OSC Rules.”

Briefly the story is about the leading Canadian market regulator for equities and capital markets, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) exploring new rules and regulations to allow crowd-funding of early-stage corporate entities.

This potentially could be similar to what happened a number of years ago when the Alberta Securities Commission allowed Junior Capital Pools (JCP) to trade on the Alberta Stock Exchange (ASE) beginning in 1986 which continued through to 1999 when the ASE merged with the Vancouver Stock Exchange to create the TSX.  Along the way some great stories came as a result of the JCPs, such as Boardwalk Equities Inc. which started with a small blind pool and through growth and acquisitions now trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

As a very interested, active observer and occasional participant in the arts, and to a lesser extent business (especially in the past), I note that business and the arts often intersect.  This, despite the fact that there will always be a certain amount of denial, whether conscious or not, of the economic reality that everyone has daily expenses they must make if they are to continue living.

The reality is that money makes the world go around.  In this respect arts organizations are no different than a corporate entity looking for money in capital markets – whether to start-up, expand, merge or have a bridge capital requirement.

So, it will be interesting to see how the talks and discussions currently underway by the OSC; any decisions that come from it; and governance that impacts this new funding model, will impact InvestYYC and the organizations it funds.

I will certainly be watching to see what happens.

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All the Artists Are Here

Today is opening night of Art Toronto.

One of the more interesting news stories to cross my desk this morning is the news story from Canadian Art magazine relating to Art Toronto.  Canadian Art will be providing daily updates as is their custom for the next few days.

The story today talks about the large installation created by Tom Sokoloski and Jeff Lei that is placed just inside the main entrance to Art Toronto entitled All the Artists Are Here.  In this installation we see approximately 1000 photos of artists that are included in the Art Fair.

I am unable to provide any commentary to this work due to lack of time today.  However, this story is very interesting to me and provides a platform for further dialogue.  It also speaks to the changing dynamic in the art world that we have witnessed during the past 20 years.  This has only been accentuated by technology and social media, amongst other societal and economic dynamics.

The news story referenced can be read here – http://www.canadianart.ca/news/2013/10/24/art-toronto-artists/

Reminder. Election date is tomorrow.

JohnLordComment1

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).

DanielWeisgerberMural

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.

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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. 1.     If elected, what are some steps that you will take to address the following issues currently affecting the arts in Calgary?
    1. 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.
    2. 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. 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. 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.

An interesting development in the upcoming election

McCallLake (1024x683)

There was an interesting ad in the Calgary Herald this morning.  It was found on page A11.   I have followed politics all my life, since I was a very young child when I wanted to be a politician for a career.  I rarely talk politics.  Be that as it may – today I want to talk politics.   I have photographed the ad in today’s Calgary Herald for reference.

What makes it worth talking about in relation to a blog that covers the arts, ironically and maybe even surprisingly, has little to do with the arts.

First some background.

McCall Lake is a golf course in the NE quadrant of the city directly south of the main North-South runway of the airport.  It is just east of Deerfoot, between 32nd Ave and McKnight Boulevard and is located in Ward 5.  City Council made a decision to close the golf course at the end of the 2014 season.  This decision was made during a city council meeting in November 2012 with the purpose to convert it into a business park with green space.

McCall Lake, quite frankly, is old news.

Why is this an interesting story?

These facts together make it an interesting story with future implications:

  • One, is that it is a full-page ad in the front section of the Herald containing six candidates, none of which are incumbents.
  • Two, none of the potential candidates are running in ward 5, where McCall Lake is located.
  • Three, Alderman Ray Clark (the incumbent for ward 5) is running unopposed with an election happening approximately five weeks from now.  If it really was an issue he would have someone (or many) running against him.
  • Four, it does not even mention the golf course
  • Five, the group states in fine print, “This is an independent opinion and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of one person or the other; nor does it constitute a Party or a Slate.”

So what makes this story and ad interesting for an arts based blog?

It really has no related and direct arts content to the story.

However, be that as it may, three of the six candidates have run previously in the last election (Oct. 2010), placing 2nd in each case.

  • Sean Chu ran against Gael McLeod in Ward 4 losing by 1,288 votes (6000 vs. 7288)
  • Kevin Taylor ran against Druh Farrell in Ward 7 losing by 1,252 votes (10,658 vs. 11,910)
  • James Maxim ran against Brian Pincott in Ward 11 losing by 1,449 votes (9,385 vs. 10,834)

This also appears to be a “shot across the bow” to present a potential slate on an issue that is more or less a red herring.  However there was a very interesting piece which contains food for thought on The Homestretch show on CBC Radio this afternoon.  http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/Local+Shows/Alberta/The+Homestretch/ID/2406694679/

With the YYCArtsPlan going to City Council early in the new Council term, it will be important for those whose interests lie with arts related issues to be aware of the potential political implications (if any).  It may even be worth it to support the activities of; ask the candidates what their thoughts are on the arts; or at the very minimum check http://artsvotecalgary.ca/ who will ask these questions on your behalf as the election draws closer.

As a sidebar, it also prompts me to question if this might be the beginning of a move to introduce a backroom slate and in so doing try  to introduce party politics into civic elections.  This is something thankfully we have not had to contend with, as it allows the successful candidate to respond to each issue on its own merits alone, without the the rigours of having to vote party line.

I will definitely be watching this development.  Although I probably will not comment further, whether I will might be up for further debate.