Unveiling a new logo and a new name under a flood of streamer cannons Thursday, the former Alberta College of Art and Design hopes its elevated status to a university will mean more predictable and stable funding for the future.
ACAD will officially become the new Alberta University of the Arts on Feb. 1, with a logo that purposely presents the word “Arts” upside down as part of an effort to make the community look at the arts in a new way.
“The intent is to provoke dialogue, to see arts differently, to see the world differently. Because people here really do think differently,” said Scott Cressman, chair of ACAD’s School of Communication Design.
The new name and logo comes less than a year after ACAD received official university status amid funding uncertainties and financial struggles to collect revenue beyond tuition.
Unlike other post-secondary institutions such as SAIT or the University of Calgary, which collect revenue from parking and student residence accommodations, ACAD has only collected money through tuition and government grants while its buildings continue to age.
But ACAD president Daniel Doz says as a university, the school now receives an additional $2.5 million annually for operating costs as well as a $2.5 million one-time grant for capital work and infrastructure upgrades.
“We have a reason now to be treated by government differently and we received a very good bump in our funding, a boost to our budget of close to 19 per cent.”
Doz explained the operating dollars, revealed in last spring’s budget, will go toward new staff and expanded programming for more than 1,200 students.
“We have been so used to being so careful and so rigorous with our budget, but now this allows us to invest more into support for our students and to bring new waves of faculty as we launch new programs.”
The one-time capital grant, Doz added, will upgrade fire-prevention systems and renovate the aging roof.
Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt said the province granted ACAD university status to more accurately reflect the high-quality degree programs available.
“Creative minds have come to Calgary for nearly a century to launch international careers in graphic design, fashion and traditional media,” Schmidt said, lauding the school’s 92-year history.
“By granting this iconic school university status, we’re cementing an already sterling global reputation.”
Alberta University of the Arts, or AUArts, offers a number of degree programs including a bachelor of fine arts and a bachelor of design at the undergraduate level, as well as a master’s degree in fine arts.
Fiona Couillard, a fourth-year painting student, will be among the first to graduate this spring with a degree from AUArts, saying the new status and funding will help elevate the school in terms of programming and prestige.
“Arts is so important to our community. It speaks to social issues, to all demographics, without preaching or hitting anyone over the head.”
Doz added that while ACAD has been offering four-year degree programs for years, the AUArts designation will also mean expanded recruitment and more opportunities for students in graduate studies across the country.
“Our status in becoming a university, it’s not so much a change in who we are but a validation of what we’ve been doing for years,” he said.