Calgary muzzles artists critical of tar sands

2 Posted by - April 17, 2013 - Blog, Policy, Visual art

The Raincoast Conservation Foundation had a permit from the City of Calgary to display their travelling art exhibition, Artists for an Oil-Free Coast, at city hall. However, once the show opened, a backlash from conservative politicians caused the city to revoke the permit, arguing the show was too “political” and violated municipal bylaws banning demonstrations inside the building.

Despite the show’s unambiguous title, the city claims they “weren’t aware there was a specific political agenda or cause associated with the art exhibit,” according to Sharon Purvis, the city’s director with corporate properties and buildings.

While the city is allowing the work — largely comprised of landscapes and nature scenes — to stay up until Wednesday, they have banned exhibition organizers conducting media interviews or speaking about politics to the public.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, renowned painted Robert Bateman, who contributed artwork to the show, welcomed the hostile reaction.

“I’m sympathetic to the councillors that want to ban it. They’re actually helping the cause of raising the profile of the show, which is OK, because otherwise the show might get ignored.”

More information about the Artists for an Oil-Free Coast, including future tour dates, can be found at the Raincoast website.

Image at top: Eeny, Meeny, Miny by Bill Helin.

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