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Arts Commons Transformation Project

Priority Capital Projects Arts Commons Transformation

For the last 35 years, Arts Commons has been a key contributor to social, economic, cultural, and intellectual life in Calgary. As Canada’s third largest arts centre, it is home to six resident companies and used by over 200 community groups.

The Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) project of expanding and upgrading Arts Commons supports the goal of improving and diversifying Calgary’s economy. It supports the Downtown Strategy and is considered a catalyst project for the Culture + Entertainment District.

Project update - April 2021

On April 26, Calgary City Council approved $80 million for Arts Commons Phase One, as part of a $200 million investment in Calgary’s Greater Downtown Plan. This initial investment is earmarked for actions that will address office vacancy improve downtown vibrancy, and support the development of thriving neighbourhoods. Read the announcement news release.

The Project

Executed in two Phases, Arts Commons Transformation will both expand capacity in an adjoining new building and renew the existing facility.

Phase one of the transformation will expand capacity at a new location called Arts Commons North, or The Roadhouse. The Road House will include three versatile, purpose-built venues, a connection to the existing building and supporting amenities. This 173,000 square-foot space will include a new 1,200 seat theatre, two smaller theatres, rehearsal space and an elevated corridor to the existing building and related amenities.

Phase two of the Arts Commons Transformation involves the revitalization of the existing facility. Arts Commons South or The Resident House will be redesigned and will create a civic arts centre that is more accessible, with upgraded amenities and technology. The Resident House is currently home to six resident companies.

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), a wholly owned subsidiary of The City of Calgary and steward of the Rivers District Master Plan, is serving as Development Manager for the Arts Commons Transformation project on behalf of the project partners Arts Commons and The City of Calgary. 

Benefits to Calgarians

Job Creation

During the construction of both phases of Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) 3,155 jobs will be created that will generate $239 M in Labour Income. [1]

Invest in Calgarians

Arts Commons is one of several major infrastructure projects that will have a positive impact on the revitalization of the downtown core, the diversification of our economy and the future of our City.

Economic Growth

Once complete, Arts Commons and their resident companies will annually generate $53 M to Calgary GDP and support 683 jobs that will generate $34 M in Labour Income. [1]

[1] Economic Contribution Analysis, Deloitte 2019.

Download the Arts Commons Transformation Economic Impact Info Sheets for the City and Province.


The design process for Phase one and Phase two is funded through $25 million of Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) approved by Calgary City Council on September 30, 2019. The design process will utilize a portion of the funding with the remaining balance being held for construction of Phase one once funding is in place.

Project background

Located in downtown Calgary, Arts Commons has been home to arts and culture since 1985. Resident companies include Alberta Theatre Projects, Arts Commons Presents, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, DownStage, One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre and Theatre Calgary. It officially opened September 14, 1985 by then Premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed. The oldest part of the city block that houses the Arts Commons is the Burns Building, which was constructed in 1912. This laid the foundation for the current building, along with the Calgary Public Building (built in 1930/31) which were incorporated into the plan for the Arts Centre. In December 2014, the Centre was rebranded as Arts Commons. This expanded the organization’s offerings beyond the performing arts.


Project Partners

Other projects

This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically. ​