The Calgary Allied Arts Foundation can trace its inception to the early 1900’s with the bequest of artworks from several individuals and organizations to The City of Calgary’s Museum and Art Gallery (1911-1927). Some of the oldest pieces in the Collection date back to the mid-1800s, and were gifted to the City by The Devonian Foundation. The first donations to the Collection were made around 1911, and the earliest commissioned work, The Boer War Memorial in Central Memorial Park, was erected by The City in 1914.
In 1928 the Museum and Art Gallery became the Calgary Public Museum, but closed its doors in 1935. The art collection was then moved to the Calgary Public Library and some of the art eventually went on to Coste House. In 1946, the Calgary Allied Arts Council was formed to administer the Coste House as an arts centre, and took on the role of steward of the art collection.
In 1960, to handle the growing number of programs and activities, the Calgary Allied Arts Council moved to larger quarters at 830-9 Avenue, SW. Through the generosity of its members and donors the property was purchased from the Union Tractor Co. The Calgary Allied Arts Foundation was established in that year as a registered society to hold the title to the property and as trustee to the art collection.
In 1969 due to financial difficulties, the Calgary Allied Arts Council closed the Calgary Allied Arts Centre and dissolved itself. The Calgary Allied Arts Foundation remained in existence and since 1970 has dedicated efforts to rebuild a Civic Art Collection. With funds from the bequests of Henry Bruce Hill, Wesley Fraser Irwin, Marion and Jim Nicoll, and Doug Motter, CAAF has continually grown the collection through purchases, donations and commissions.
1982 saw CAAF enter a legal agreement with the City of Calgary. The City assumed the custodial and caretaker role for the newly named Civic Art Collection, while CAAF became an advisory and consulting committee to City Council for the purpose of assisting in the acquisition, housing, exhibition and maintenance of the collection.
The Calgary Visual Arts Board and the Sculpture Advisory Committee amalgamated together with CAAF in 1992 into one organization, under the banner of the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation, to create more effective communication with City Council.
In 1993 the Articles of Association changed, CAAF was no longer a committee appointed by City Council but would hold elections for the Board of Directors from its own general membership. CAAF’s role expanded with The City of Calgary in 1994 via the signing of a new legal operating agreement. By this agreement, CAAF accepted a request by The City to oversee the management of a much broader collection with the inclusion of all the public art; from the “Lions” to “Family of Man”. This operating agreement reflects CAAF’s expanded role as an advisor to City Council on issues pertaining to the Civic Art Collection, visual art issues and policies, management of the public art fund and the B12 Bonus Strategy.
In 2004, City Council approved the Public Art Policy and appointed a Public Art Board to provide expert community input and advice to the public art processes of the City of Calgary Public Art Program. The Public Art Board acknowledges that the Civic Art Collection is a significant part of Calgary’s publicly owned art and that it is appropriate that CAAF and the Board work together to help guide and inform the direction of the Public Art Program, especially as it pertains to the Collection.
The Public Art Board and the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation (CAAF) have established a new working relationship with The City that will guide how the Public Art Program ‘oversees and cares for’ the Civic Art Collection.