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The Banff Centre

Banff Professional Development Centre.Alberta's mountains have beckoned its artists for a very long time. The solitude and incomparable scenery found there has made it an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful backdrop for creating.

The Banff School of Fine Arts (now The Banff Centre) was officially founded in 1936, but had been active for three years previous to that. In its early days, the school partnered with the University of Alberta's Department of Extension so that actors enrolled in summer theatre programming at the Centre could also explore the visual arts.

Banff signature shot.This visual component was arranged when the Banff school joined with the summer mountain landscape painting program offered by the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now the Alberta College of Art and Design). Eventually, fine arts became a formalized component of The Banff Centre and highly accomplished faculty were brought together from across North America.

With prestigious educators, the Centre began to attract artists from throughout the nation. In order to facilitate the participation of talented, but financially restricted artists, the Banff Centre began to provide scholarships on a regular basis.

The Paradise Institute.Today, The Banff Centre runs a media and visual arts department with an amplified variety of programming artists can choose from. Following the Centre's evolutionary shifts, courses have changed in focus from introductory to advanced schooling.

The media and visual arts arts department now seeks to provide higher-level training to artists who already possess formal training and an exhibition record. Its goal is to have programming focused on professional development, research and training in visual arts.

Disciplines that the department educates in are ceramics, painting, photography, print media, papermaking and sculpture. For those seeking multimedia discourse, the disciplines may also end up interacting with the new media component of the centre.

Roy Kiyooka's "Untitled (P.N.E.)"Artists seeking to achieve a relatively short but intense period of learning and productivity can partake in the visual arts department's creative residencies. Living at the centre for a set period of time, artists in residence have access to a community of creative peers, theoretical education and a studio environment to work in.

A myriad of residencies are programmed for each year and may be structured around a certain discipline like photography, for a particular community of artists such as Aboriginal artists or women, or based on thematic concepts such as approaches to nationhood.

A second area of visual arts programming that the Centre provides is the Walter Phillips Gallery that was established in 1976. The gallery serves to exhibit and collect contemporary artworks such as paintings, drawings and prints. It also houses a sizeable collection of video art that is accessible to the public for viewing.

Buffy St. MarieThe Banff Centre's International Curatorial Institute is a third and valuable area of programming. It balances the creation of art with the preservation and administration of it. The institute supports emerging and mid-career curators in advancing their professional development through residencies, work-study programs, think tanks and symposia.

Providing a well-equipped site for artistic professionalism, and a respite from the cityscape, the Banff Centre's media and visual arts department continues to promote excellence in visual representation while adapting to the changing needs and realities of practicing artists.

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