2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Judy Davidson

University of Alberta
Pillars of the community: Public art and professional sports arenas
Pillars of the community: Public art and professional sports arenas
In November, 2016, the “Pillars of the community” public art installation was unveiled at the rear of the new state of the art arena, Roger’s Place, in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, home to the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers franchise. In distinct juxtaposition to the other four officially commissioned pieces of contemporary art that are found in and around the arena, the “Pillars of the community” installation comprises five large portraits of inner-city community members, painted on 10-meter concrete slabs which cover a large public LRT vent, near the community rink in the Roger’s Place development. This paper will explore how processes and practices of gentrification are perpetuated through private-public partnership arena developments, public art, and community ‘engagement’. Civic public art is often controversial, and this installation is no exception. The paper engages a critical analysis drawing from ethnographic data from community members, inner city front line social service providers, and municipal arts council policy to consider questions of censorship, carcerality, and ongoing practices of colonization in the downtown Edmonton core.