Beyond bricks and mortar, it’s culture that speaks to the heart of the city. The annual Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions is proof the arts community is not only alive, but thriving in Calgary.
This year’s sold out lunch, held on March 22, once again brought together Calgary’s business and art communities to recognize the important relationships that foster artistic achievement.
“We see leaders in our community create canvases for dreams to take shape,” said Randy Ferguson, COO of Strategic Group, the Champion sponsor of the Mayor’s Lunch. “That is what makes a great city. Not a good or a functional city, but a great city. One that people learn from, admire, and replicate.”
On stage, Ferguson summed up the event’s overriding theme: the transformative power of art strengthens the community of Calgary and serves as an example for the rest of Canada and the world.
In past years, the event has largely focused on the crucial need for financial support in the arts community, even in the face of economic hardship. But this year Mayor Naheed Nenshi urged everyone to think on a larger scale.
We see leaders in our community create canvases for dreams to take shape. That is what makes a great city. Not a good or a functional city, but a great city. One that people learn from, admire, and replicate.
“The world feels like a scary place right now,” said Nenshi. “It feels like the voices of intolerance are growing stronger and stronger; that the forces that will tear us apart are prevailing over the forces that will bring us together.”
In the face of such adversity, the mayor invited the audience to make a statement for Canada by serving locally.
“The way we fix humanity is through building a community and the way we build a community is through service,” he said.
Leading the way, a group of artists and organizations were presented Cultural Leaders Legacy Artist Awards. Recipients included local Calgarians like Teresa Coulter, who received the ATB Financial Healing Through the Arts Award for her work in raising awareness of mental health, and musician Chris Demeaner, who received the Doug and Louis Mitchell Outstanding Calgary Artist Award.
Her Honour, Lois Mitchell, the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, whose namesake is represented on one of the awards, was able to attend the event for the first time. Noting the importance of art and what it means to be an artist, she said, “It’s all about creativity and the courage to act.”
“When we support the arts, we’re not just helping build the quality of dance, theatre, music, literature, and visual arts for people to enjoy,” she said. “We’re also creating a spirit of innovation and forward momentum that benefits all Calgarians and its surrounding area.”