In 1933, the Banff School was established as a summer outreach program of the University of Alberta, offering a single course in drama. Since then, it has become a renowned cultural destination and educational institution, today known as the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
As PearlAnn Reichwein and Karen Wall recount in this engaging history, over its first four decades the school produced and circulated ideals of culture and liberal democratic citizenship that were intrinsic to the development of modern Canada. Uplift traces the role of the school in shaping arts and cultural education, as reflected in its array of interests from the artistic to the political, economic, and ideological. Situated within Banff National Park, the school and its surroundings combined stunning natural scenery and cultural capital in a symbolic national landscape.
In an era of unstable cultural policy and state support for the arts, Uplift offers a nuanced account of one particular engine of nation building and tourism development. It draws attention to the past and present place of fine arts, culture, and the humanities in public education and in Canada’s history, exploring what they mean to democracy, citizenship, and a life well lived.
This book will find an audience with academics, policy makers, and practitioners in the fields of education, art, tourism, parks, recreation, and regional development. It will also appeal broadly to artists and to the many international readers who have visited or studied art in the Canadian Rockies.
I have come across no other work that explores the art history and visual culture of this landscape at this level of detail. The book provides a valuable history of the Banff School, and it will also influence ongoing discussions about education, art, and political and environmental issues in Alberta and Canada today.
PearAnn Reichwein and Karen Wall have given a penetrative and critical account of the conception, institution, organization, and culture of the Banff School of Fine Arts in the twentieth century. Uplift stands as a solid foundation for future work in the interdisciplinary fields it encompasses.
PearlAnn Reichwein is an associate professor of history at the University of Alberta. She is the author of the award-winning Climber’s Paradise: Making Canada’s Mountain Parks, 1906–1974 and co-editor with Karen Fox of Mountain Diaries: The Alpine Adventures of Margaret Fleming, 1929–1980. Both titles were Banff Mountain Book Festival finalists. She is a founding member of the Canadian Mountain Network and an advocate for parks, heritage, and UNESCO sites.
Karen Wall is a professor of communication, media, and heritage studies at Athabasca University and teaches in the Heritage Resource Management Program. She is the author of Game Plan: A Social History of Sport in Alberta, as well as numerous articles about Edmonton and Alberta heritage and arts, tourism, Indigenous issues, and cultural landscapes.
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