Tenant Profile: Alberta Craft Council
Calgarians love craft, with a burgeoning contemporary craft community that includes a new MFA program in Craft Media at the Alberta College of Art and Design, and popular exhibition and sale venues including the New Craft Coalition, and Calgary staple, Market Collective (8 years and running). Market venues for craft have played a large part in launching the careers of now permanent retailers like the Livery Shop and Plant (both located in Inglewood) which had their start at Market Collective. The Craft Council at cSPACE King Edward marks a decade-long pursuit to establish a facility in Calgary to support this dynamic and growing community.
We spoke with Executive Director Tom McFall on the exciting plans for Craft Council at cSPACE King Edward:
c: ACC has long been established as a successful gallery in Edmonton: Why the expansion to Calgary and what makes this the city that you want to work in?
Alberta Craft Council is a Provincial Arts Service Organization and works with a province-wide membership. About 1/3 of these members are Calgary based. While located permanently in Edmonton, ACC has planned, for a long time, a second centre of exhibition, retail and service activity, in Calgary. After a dozen proposals, over as many years, the King Edward Arts Hub has finally provided the right place, space and atmosphere for the new Alberta Craft Gallery – Calgary.
c: What are your plans for cSPACE King Edward – tell me more about your vision for the gallery and retail space?
The Alberta Craft Gallery – Calgary will occupy the former auditorium of King Edward School. The high ceilings, and original plasterwork will be restored and various contemporary gallery elements will be inserted. The space will be quite flexible, and will be allocated approximately half and half to exhibitions and retail activity. Openings, artist talks, tours, professional development events, and special projects will be hosted within the gallery space or in other areas of King Edward…this will all be a significant expansion of the ACC’s other province-wide and Edmonton-based activity. The gallery is also expected to become a prominent public destination attracting gallery goers, craft aficionados, collectors and shoppers, cultural tourists, as well as students and members.
c: Tell us about your programming methodologies, and what visitors to cSPACE King Edward can look forward to seeing in the new gallery space:
Alberta Craft Council is the second largest gallery in downtown Edmonton, attracting 30,000 visitors annually to exhibitions, events and great shopping. The Discovery and Feature Galleries present about 20 exhibitions each year, which occasionally tour … as far as the US and South Korea. The Gallery Shop offers work for sale by about 150 emerging and professional members. ACC also coordinates a quarterly magazine, advocacy projects, awards, special projects, and a range of valuable career development services. The Craft Council has members province-wide and a significant concentration of members in Calgary who are often associated with ACAD.
c: Where are the areas of craft that you are seeing the greatest growth in Alberta?
Alberta has a sophisticated contemporary craft arts scene. Important craft-supportive institutions include Alberta College of Art and Design, Series Summer School (Red Deer College), and Medalta. Calgary has an especially high concentration of craft artists with national and international reputations. For example, four of the 16 recipients of Governor General’s Awards for craft have been Calgarians. Southern Alberta has fostered a lively studio ceramics scene since the 1920s and Calgary is one of Canada’s three or four hot-spots for hot glass artists.
ACC works with emerging and established professional craft artists – those who are on a career path. Many other organizations provide learning opportunities for the hobby or serious amateur interests. And there has been a recent large increase in the DIY, Etsy and other entrepreneurial makers overlap with fine craft.
c: What are some of your favorite past ACC shows and what made them stand out?
ACC has produced more than 250 exhibitions under my direction. Every one of these exhibitions, and related publications, openings, tours etc, has expressed the really remarkable individual creativity, innovative thinking, skill, accomplishment, and dedication of member craft art artists. My favorite exhibitions include:
- “Alberta Made Home” featured 200 pieces of fine craft home furnishings at the ACC Gallery in Edmonton and Triangle Gallery
- “Alberta Scene”, fibre art landscapes and urbanscapes, toured Canada for 4 years
- “All About Alberta” went to the Alberta Centennial in Ottawa, to Alberta at the Smithsonian, to Cheongju International Craft Biennale in South Korea, and toured 8 Canadian and US cities
- “Clay 2010” featured work by 45 Alberta ceramic artists whose work was all acquired by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts
- “Prairie Excellence”, a joint project with Saskatchewan and Manitoba Craft Councils toured 9 prairie public galleries
- “Pulp, Paper, Pages” was presented at ACC in Edmonton, Leighton Art Centre and Wonju South Korea
c: What is the procedure to get involved with ACC for interested local craftspeople looking to exhibit or sell in the gallery?
ACC has an open general membership for anyone interested in supporting craft arts in Alberta. There is also a professional membership, with a submission process and advisory committee, which provides access to a wide range of services such as retail gallery, various marketing ventures, on-going career development assistance, national and international projects, etc. For more about ACC’s exhibitions and services, please visit www.albertacraft.ab.ca
We are excited for the inclusion of ACC – bringing a strong craft presence to the main public floor of cSPACE King Edward. In the spring we will be announcing our exciting slate of new tenants – including individual makers offering everything from workshops to product sale, in mediums ranging from fine art through photography, jewelry and more!
The Alberta Craft Council (ACC, est. 1980) a Provincial Arts Service Organization supporting contemporary and heritage craft art forms in Alberta. ACC runs Edmonton’s second largest public gallery, and is the most active craft council west of Quebec, serving over 400 members.