Our EDIA Journey Accelerated in 2020

As Canada’s third most diverse city, we want to ensure our arts sector and arts leadership reflect the rich diversity of our city.

As a public agency stewarding public dollars for the benefit of ALL Calgarians, we aspire to foster a resilient and sustainable arts sector that is safe and welcoming for all, regardless of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, language, citizenship, creed, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, marital status, physical, or mental abilities.

Truth and Reconciliation

At Calgary Arts Development, EDIA work is grounded in our truth and reconciliation journey, which began in a serious way in 2017.

In 2020 we hosted a second Aisinna’kiiks dinner and dialogue series with Calgary Board of Education to explore and strengthen relations between Indigenous peoples and settlers. The series included Elders, artists, educators, youth, community and arts leaders. Artists are an important part of these gatherings, not only participating in the conversations, but also providing an artistic response to the dialogues and learnings at the end of the series. Aisinna’kiiks was disrupted by COVID and moved to online gatherings, with the final presentation of the artistic responses in March of 2021. 

The Original Peoples Investment Program (OPIP) supports the preservation and revitalization of First Nations/Métis/Inuit (FNMI) art through arts-based projects and activities that are supported and validated by FNMI artists, community, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers. OPIP is open to FNMI artists and collectives demonstrating a serious dedication to artistic practice at all stages of career, and FNMI-led organizations, all primarily practicing or operating in the Calgary Moh’kinsstis area. Work can be in any artistic discipline (traditional, contemporary or other). In 2020, $399,398 was invested in 44 artists or projects (57% of those who applied).

Black Lives Matter

The murder of George Floyd on May 25 ignited people throughout North America to engage in meaningful ways to put an end to anti-Black racism.

We were called out, and rightly so, for not responding quickly enough. As a result, we published a Black Lives Matter statement on our website, which also listed a number of actions we would undertake to support and show our solidarity for Black artists and the trauma that has and is experienced by all Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC), and artists with disabilities. 

In the second half of 2020, we undertook the following actions:

  • Hosted five anti-racism virtual town halls with guest speakers to share ideas and learning in our community.

  • Created an EDIA staff working group to examine our commitment to EDIA at every level of our organization, and further develop anti-racist policies and practices governing our work, including recruitment, access to granting programs, procurement processes, community engagement.

  • Commissioned and compensated an EDIA community working group to build a community of trust and to respond to the EDIA actions being taken by Calgary Arts Development.

  • Facilitated a series of Chat and Chew discussions for BIPOC artists.
  • Continued to support the work of equity-seeking artists through our granting programs, with emphasis on the Original Peoples Investment Program, the ArtShare Program, and the Artist as Changemaker Program.

  • Contributed financial support for the Cultural Instigators—a group of artists-organizers learning and helping to build collective capacity in the arts communities for EDIA, working on community initiatives for change.

  • Amplified the stories of artists that reflect the rich cultural diversity of our city through The Storytelling Project, with a particular focus on sharing diverse stories through the podcasts and a new web series.

  • Provided financial flowthrough of City funding for Pink Flamingo’s Black Lives Matter mural project.