Giant sculptures stir interest as tourist attraction

It’s kind of a good-news-bad-news scenario for Central Alberta sculpture park investor Morton Burke.

It’s kind of a good-news-bad-news scenario for Central Alberta sculpture park investor Morton Burke.

A Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign Burke launched in June to try to recoup his investment in 19 monumental stone carvings, so he could donate them to a community for a sculpture park, turned out to be “a wash out.”

“I got one percent of the total I was hoping for,” said Burke, who had a goal of raising $75,000 in mind by July 9. This would have allowed him to turn the first five sculptures over to an interested municipality.

He estimates each massive sculpture made during four international stone carving symposiums held from 2008 to 2012 (three were on his Bergen property and was one at Red Deer College) cost him $15,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.

This includes honouraria given to the participating international sculptors, their accommodations, tools and raw materials.

Burke needs to recoup this money so he can host more sculpture symposiums.

It’s also been his long-held dream to turn the created sculptures, now on display on his remote rural property, over to a municipality that would commit to starting a public sculpture park.

He believes the crowd-funding campaign did bring him closer to this goal.

Burke said the campaign stirred interest from several municipalities in possibly starting a sculpture park as a tourist attraction. “They were inquiring if they could purchase (the sculptures).”

While nothing has yet been solidified, Burke hopes it will soon.

“I learned a lot from the (crowd-funding) experience,” he added.

This time, Burke had no way of tracking where the donations were coming from. In future, he believes it would work better to tie a Kickstarter campaign to a particular community, so that a municipality could then drum up interest in a local sculpture park fundraiser.

Meanwhile, the sculptures can be viewed on his property this summer. (Directions can be obtained from the Sundre Tourism office, or on-line from mortonsculpting.blogspot.com).

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