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Foundation for the Arts
Alberta Foundation for the Arts
The Alberta Foundation for the Arts (AFA) was formed in
1991 as a crown agency of the Government of Alberta. The AFA was an
amalgamation of previous arts funding institutions: the Alberta Foundation
of the Literary Arts, the Alberta Foundation of the Performing Arts and
the Alberta Art Foundation, all overseen by the Minister of Alberta
Managing to persevere through the political upheavals
of the 1990s, the AFA continues to make funding available for the arts.
While the source of government support may have changed (in terms of
amounts and how it was offered during the 1970s and 1980s, to the
lottery-fund driven model it is today), grant money is still
available to Alberta's artists.
While the AFA has received its share of protest from its controversial
beginnings, the amount of funding available has not decreased over the
past decade. Nor had the amount increased (maintained at approximately $16
million per annum) until 2003, when Gene Zwozdesky, the Minister of Community
Development, delivered news that the AFA budget would be increased for
the first time in more than 10 years, provisioning an additional $8
million to disperse amongst the artists of the province.
One of the staples of the AFA, and one of the oldest forms of government
support of the arts in the province, is the provincial art collection,
comprised of work created by Alberta artists. Once the mandate of the Alberta Art
Foundation, the now 30-year old collection totaled, for the 2003 year ending, 6,939 pieces,
valued at approximately $7,439,000.
In 1997, 25 years after the creation of the collection, numerous art shows
were held to showcase the vast collection. More than 150,000
Albertans turned out to appreciate their artistic heritage.
This legacy has paid dividends in numerous ways. According to a survey of
Albertans conducted by Community Development for their 2003 Annual Report,
just under 90 percent of
said that they had attended an arts or cultural activity in the previous
year, and just over 88 percent agreed that arts and culture were important
in contributing to overall quality of life in the province. Funding of
arts organizations by the Alberta Foundation of the Arts help make such
numbers possible. Incidentally, the survey reinforces previous polls that
also indicated Albertans are passionate supporters and consumers of the