Capitalizing the Beauties: Cultural Institutions, Tourism and Art in Alberta
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Avant-garde art movements, extension education programs and public museums all have histories of attempting to dissolve institutional barriers, both literal and otherwise, between the arts and humanities and everyday life. This research project looks at the way Alberta cultural institutions have organized extension fine arts education within the context of broad political and economic agendas over the twentieth century. The presentation will focus on, first, the mid-century Banff School of Fine Arts as a university extension project whose visual arts programs interacted with both nation-building and regional tourism development. Jumping to the present, we then ask whether, following nearly a century of community arts education in the province, the general population consists of a high percentage of enthusiastic art lovers and art makers. Have metropolitan institutions developed, not only audiences, but frameworks of critical, informed dialogue among cultural consumers and producers? Will "severely normal" people flock to the shiny new Art Gallery of Alberta? Here the presentation will survey directions looking to contemporary moves toward democratizing cultural production through mobile learning, uncurated exhibitions, guerilla galleries and other innovative uses of urban space for cultural activity.