The Banff 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
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.
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
began to provide scholarships on a regular basis.
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.
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.
The 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
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