Every month, Creative Calgary will connect with a different City Councillor to learn more about their priorities for the arts in their ward, and how the arts in their ward are impacting Calgarians city-wide. This month, we connected with Councillor Terry Wong in Ward 7. Each month, we will ask City Councillors the following three questions:
What are your priorities for the arts in your Ward?
Tell a success story of the arts in your Ward.
How does the arts in your Ward impact Calgarians city-wide?
Here are Councillor Terry Wong's responses:
What are your priorities for the arts in Ward 7?
For me, two objectives I see for the arts and artists in Ward 7 are complimentary but distinct. Firstly, I have supported investment in arts and cultural organizations as the creation of innovative works, in addition to quality jobs and opportunities for artists and cultural workers benefits all Canadians. There is a robust arts ecosystem here in Calgary, and especially in Ward 7. The mecca of artistic excellence based locally attracts and employs artists from across the country, as well as serves to drive tourism and helping to attract new talent to our city. Presently there are several strategies, both City-led and approaches informed through strategic partnerships, that leverage the contributions of arts organizations and artists to boost vibrancy across Calgary neighbourhoods, enrich everyday life, and help Calgarians feel represented in our City.
Secondly, the arts have a role to play beyond serving as a economic driver. The wellbeing of Calgarians and the wellbeing of our businesses are key to building strong communities and we know that creativity is at the heart of what helps to heal after a deep trauma like the COVID-19 pandemic, define great neighbourhoods and ensure cities can thrive in an increasingly technological age. It is a priority for me to see private and public partnerships in all areas optimized further to strengthen our communities and economy.
Tell a success story of the arts in Ward 7.
Ward 7 is an extremely diverse constituency in population and size – within our boundaries alone include 21 Community Associations and five Business Improvement Areas/Zones. There are numerous small businesses, heritage groups, schools, and grassroots community initiatives led by constituents as well in between, and I believe that they are all unique in needs and their respective goals. As an example, right before the holidays, it was important to support the communities of Capitol Hill, Banff Trail, and Parkdale on efforts to bring vibrancy to main streets – in this case, my constituents needed support in navigating permitting challenges for their Santa Sleigh Ride event – this small event may not be on the same scale as professional events in the commercial core during peak tourism seasons but it is just as critical a contribution to Calgary as a whole. I am a strong advocate for shared prosperity.
As I near almost 150-days in office my team continues to engage with community members and it has been a great privilege to be a part of many safe reopening events after two years of pandemic-related lockdown. Memorable experiences for me include attending the Palace Theatre reopening in Kensington, helping to kick-off the 2022 Lion Dance celebrations in Chinatown for Lunar New Year, attending the opening night shows of various Arts Common’s resident theatres, visiting the Glenbow one last time before construction began, and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Pumphouse Theatre with community members. Now that restrictions have lifted and the pace of life safely resumes to what it once was, I am very much looking forward to engaging more with the community and a chance to connect in person again so if you see me out around Calgary, and especially in Ward 7, please do not hesitate to say hello. My team and I are eager to connect!
How does the arts in Ward 7 impact Calgarians city-wide?
The arts have played and continue to play a key role in the revitalization of Calgary’s downtown. All downtown cores are economic drivers which is why there is specific focus on the Greater Downtown Plan (GDP) now. In these economic and social times, I understand that all causes are worthy of support and consideration. I am not disputing that. Simply put, I believe that a timely investment to revitalize our core is an investment in all Calgarians for generations to come and I understand that the GDP outlines how to improve connectivity networks between all Wards and the core, create more jobs for Calgarians and build infrastructure that serves modern needs.
I want to stress that everything is connected in the ecosystem that is Calgary and our prosperity hinges on the health of every single community – Ward 7 is not an island onto itself. My constituents are community members who have individual impact extending out in the reaches of Calgary’s furthest boundaries and vice versa. Ward 7 is where many Calgarians make their home but it is also a destination as well as a nexus for residents and visitors to pass through. Therefore, it is important that public and private strategies focus on improving experiences to, in and through downtown to that spaces are clean, safe, and inclusive, and wayfinding/navigation is clear. I think that arts and culture are essential components in achieving these goals.
To contact Councillor Wong's office, please visit: www.calgary.ca/citycouncil/ward-7.