Posts tagged ‘naheed nenshi’

July 9, 2013

Why a Calgary Winter Stampede would be the Coolest Show on Earth

calgary-stampede-rodeo

A Calgary Winter Stampede may not have much of a rodeo presence, but it sure would be The Coolest Show on Earth. (Julia Pelish photo/Vacay.ca)

[This opinion piece was first published on Vacay.ca and then the Huffington Post earlier this week.]

As the Calgary Stampede completes its first weekend after a heroic effort by volunteers, organizers and workers to overcome the devastation of the June flood, there’s a heightened awareness of the importance of tourism to the city.

Had the flooding occurred a week later, the Stampede very likely would have been wiped out, jeopardizing one quarter of the city’s annual tourism income. Disasters reveal vulnerabilities, not just in infrastructure and urban planning, but in economics, as well. The flood in Alberta indicates a need for more significant tourism draws to the city.

The Stampede, now in its 101st year, created $340 million in economic impact last year, when it welcomed a record 1.5 million visitors. Tourism totals $1.4 billion and attracts 5.2 million visitors each year inCalgary. For a city of more than one million people, having one event account for 25% of tourism is far too high of a percentage. In contrast, the Montreal Jazz Festival and Just for Laughs comedy festival — which both bring in more than $100 million in spending to Quebec’s largest city — are each responsible for about 5% of the metropolitan area’s $2.4-billion annual tourism industry. Even if either one was as large as the Stampede, it still wouldn’t be responsible for a quarter of the share of tourism spending. Likewise, if either one was cancelled for whatever reason, the loss wouldn’t cut so deep because other international festivals exist in Montreal.

If there’s a lesson for the city and tourism operators in Calgary to take away from the flood it might be that now’s the time to dramatically diversify event offerings to have another giant festival that attracts global attention. In my mind, the surest way to make an immediate and sustained impact is through launching an annual Calgary Winter Stampede.

Such an event accomplishes several objectives for Tourism Calgary and mayor Naheed Nenshi.

  1. It adds another significant event to the annual calendar to entice visitors and generate revenue.
  2. It boosts employment in the tourism sector, which currently employs 10% of Calgarians.
  3. It allows for another way to demonstrate Calgary’s astounding community spirit.

A Calgary Winter Stampede takes advantage of the city’s best-known brand, “the Greatest Show on Earth” itself, and allows the city to capitalize on the winter sports traffic to its airport, where skiers and snowboarders land en route to the Canadian Rockies.

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June 2, 2012

Why it’s hip to be in Calgary these days

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The blown-glass ceiling is a highlight of Hotel Arts in Calgary. (Julia Pelish photo)

[First published in Vacay.ca]

CALGARY, ALBERTA — Ryan Fairweather built a furnace in his backyard garage that heats up to 1,200 degrees Celsius — the same temperature as the corona of the sun. From it, he and his cohorts at Bee Kingdom make glassware that’s gained international attention (Elton John owns a piece, supporters of the company are quick to mention) and turned four guys from art school into magazine cover boys and trendsetters.

There’s lots of, um, buzz around Bee Kingdom and not necessarily because of its product. Although the glassware, made in the rear of the group’s tiny bungalow, is outstanding, the true intrigue about this collective is the fact they can even exist, and flourish, in a city known for a sensational amount of wealth and a vacuum of creativity.

“Being an artist in Calgary, we’ve really had to find our own way. We couldn’t graduate and find a prescribed path because there really wasn’t one. Everything we’re doing we’re kind of doing with trial and error. With that there’s been lots of obstacles, but lots of successes too. Because no one else is really doing what we’re doing, it’s been relatively easy to get some exposure,” Fairweather says, noting that Avenue, a glossy magazine that reports on the city, put Bee Kingdom on the cover and their trademark yellow Converse shoes have gained the attention of the likes of Naheed Nenshi, the popular, 40-year-old mayor who has become a symbol of Calgary’s newfound hipness.

This city of 1.1 million has grown by more than 20 per cent in the past six years as more Canadians from the east, who a generation ago would have stopped in Toronto for work, skip over the nation’s largest city for the draw of big paydays and security in Calgary. Until this year, though, there was little attention paid to Calgary’s efforts in using money made from the oil-and-gas industry — the source of plenty of Alberta’s wealth — to boosting the city’s image as an arts, music and dining hot spot. In 2012, Calgary is one of two Culture Capitals of Canada (Ontario’s Niagara Region is the other) and is receiving more than $3 million in funding from federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as the private sector.

When I ask how the arts scene has changed during her career, Anne Ewen, the Art Gallery of Calgary’s director, says without missing a beat: “There is one.”

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