Just in case you missed it Wednesday, Capital Power (the power generation company created by EPCOR) gave Edmontonians quite a nice Christmas present.

The new Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA) and Capital Power announced they have entered into a three-year partnership that will allow the AGA to curate and exhibit works from the National Gallery in Ottawa. This is a first for a regional gallery.

So why am I so hyped about the AGA?


I think Brian Vaasjo, president and chief executive officer of Capital Power, answered that question quite nicely at the announcement.

“We both started here when Edmonton was quite small and have grown with the city,” he said. “Now we are both embarking on a new stage of our development. It is important for both of our organizations to be recognized locally, provincially, nationally and internationally for excellence and demonstrated commitment to community.

“We believe this three-year partnership will be instrumental in helping both Capital Power and the AGA to achieve that goal.”

The City of Edmonton often talks about sponsoring events such as the Indy because it will help “put Edmonton on the map.” If you read this column regularly, you know how I feel about using taxpayer money for such things. However, I think the Capital Power partnership with the AGA will in fact help put Edmonton on the map — at least culturally.

Thanks to Capital Power, Edmontonians, Albertans and other Western Canadians will be able to experience exhibitions they might otherwise not be able to see. Think Picasso, Degas, Goya and the like.

This announcement makes me quite proud of what my city is becoming. The AGA is much more than a building. It’s a visible symbol of our movement away from our utilitarian Prairie past and toward becoming a cosmopolitan 21st-century city. All major cities in the world have a least one world-class public art gallery and Edmonton is well positioned to join their ranks.

When the AGA opens in January, we will at long last have something we can take visitors to see other than West Edmonton Mall and the River Valley. I suspect the AGA will rapidly become a “must see” for visitors and Edmontonians alike.

The AGA opens with a two-day celebration starting Jan. 31, 2010. Free tickets will be available on the AGA’s website. I am hoping that many Edmontonians take advantage of this opportunity.

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