Rumour mill churning on The Bow

By DJ Kelly January 15, 2008

I think I like the new banner up there at the top of the ol’ blog. I like the look of downtown Calgary in the future. It reminds me of the opening credits of “Dallas” for some reason though. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not yet…

Anyway, I when I first was looking at the image of Calgary’s downtown future I couldn’t help being struck by the Bow. That’s going to be one super sexy skyscraper when its done. The photo to the left is what the site looks like right now. (If you like, you can click here for the Calgary Herald’s “The Bow rising” photo gallery and follow the progress of construction.)

And of course thinking about the Bow got me thinking about the – now infamous – National Portrait Gallery space.

Do you remember last year all that hubbub about the federal government putting a the national gallery into a large public space that has been planned at the Bow? You remember: Stephen Harper proposes the first national gallery outside of Ottawa for his hometown of Calgary and everyone outside the 403 area code got riled up at the idea of such favouritism? No? Well maybe you remember the federal government short listing nine cities to put forward proposals to host the gallery? (Yes, Calgary is one of those cities.) Or maybe the instead you remember the City of Ottawa report saying it would save the country $2.5 million to simply build the gallery in the National Capital Region like all other national galleries have been.

BUT I DIGRESS because I started thinking about what was going to happen in the Bow’s public space now that it will not be housing the National Portrait Gallery. So I did some digging and here is what I’ve been able to piece together from various bits of scuttlebutt on the street: the plan is still to use the space for arts/cultural uses; as a matter of fact I hear that a deal may be close to move one (or maybe two or three) existing Calgary arts organization(s) into the Bow. (None of this is verified though.)

Okay, sure that’s exciting, but for me what’s more exciting is what the domino part of this process might mean. Because we are talking about existing organization(s) making a move, that would open up existing arts space in Calgary for other organizations. If what I hear is true, then there may be three or more existing organizations that don’t have a permanent home getting one!

This would certainly aleiveatve a lot of the stress currently on arts and cultural groups in Calgary that are clammering for space. For more details on that look no further than Calgary Arts Development’s cultural spaces report. Odds are the Bow will be completed in about five years.