Capital Projects FAQ
Arts Commons Transformation Project
The Calgary Centre for Performing Arts (now Arts Commons) opened in 1985 with four Resident Companies (Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Alberta Theatre Projects, and Theatre Calgary, and the Centre’s presenting entity, now known as Arts Commons Presents). Since 1985, we added two more Resident Companies (One Yellow Rabbit and Downstage Performance Society).
Calgary’s population has since doubled (as has Arts Commons’ annual visitors), and diversified significantly, bringing an increased need for access to a diverse range of gathering spaces. Some capacity has been added in Calgary, but the capacity deficit is still very pronounced.
While the existing facility has been enormously successful, it is working much harder than the design intended, bringing all the major infrastructure to the end (and beyond) of lifecycle. According to the Building Condition Assessment and Asset Management Plan that were produced with the assistance of The City of Calgary, $71M in critical lifecycle and accessibility issues have been identified. Much of the stage-technical infrastructure is outdated and our facility does not offer state-of-the-art equipment.
Having been conceived as a “Resident House” (i.e. a subsidized home for Resident Companies) the model assumed strong and ongoing operating support from The Province of Alberta and The City of Calgary. While The City’s support is still significant, Provincial support ceased in 2015. As we have maximized all available capacity to achieve revenues from our current venues, if we are to continue to increase earned revenues we must add more revenue generating spaces.
ACT will renew and transform Arts Commons’ aging facility, successfully addressing more than $71M in critical life-cycle issues and providing our Resident Companies with the foundation for economic resiliency and sustainability.
In two Phases, ACT will both expand capacity in an adjoining new building and renew the existing facility bringing it up to today’s standards.
Phase 1 is the construction of the Road House. The Road House will provide the much needed increase in the number of venues and spaces necessary to meet growing market demand and community aspirations. The Road House will become home to most of the resident companies and the 200+ community groups that use the facility, while renovation work is underway in Phase 2 of ACT.
Phase 2 is the revitalization of the existing 560,000 square foot Resident House, which will address the $71M in lifecycle challenges. It will also elevate the public’s experience through upgraded amenities and technology throughout the facility.
Upon completion of Phase 2, the Road House will then become one of the primary economic drivers of the complex’s overall operating sustainability, generating the revenue to sustain the Resident House without requiring additional operating support from The City of Calgary.
Calgary’s population has doubled since Arts Commons was built in 1985 (as has Arts Commons’ annual visitors), and diversified significantly, bringing an increased need for access to a diverse range of gathering spaces. Some capacity has been added in Calgary, but the capacity deficit is still very pronounced. The increased capacity will primarily come from the development of Phase 1.
With much of the current buildings infrastructure and technology at end of life, there is over $71M in critical work that must be done in order to maintain the existing space for all users, including Resident Companies. Pursuing Phase 2 helps remedy those lifecycle maintenance requirements. Further investments will be required for Phase 2, and Arts Commons will be initiating a capital campaign to complete the project.
Phase 2 is however dependent on the completion of Phase 1. Without Phase 1, our Resident Companies, and the over 200 community organizations that call Arts Commons home will have nowhere to go while Phase 2 is in development. Once Phase 1 is complete, some Resident Companies will operate in the new “North” building until Phase 2 is complete, in order to minimize disruption and ensure they are operational throughout construction. Community organizations will also have access to the new facility.
Upon completion of Phase 2, Resident Companies will return to the refurbished and revitalized Phase 2 building (the ‘resident house’), and the “North” building will operate as a ‘roadhouse’, generating revenue to sustain the ‘resident house’. The two Phases increase capacity and provide community organizations and Resident Companies with additional space to grow and thrive. ACT is not simply about replacing aging venues, it is about increasing capacity and enhancing the experience for the hundreds of thousands of people who enjoy these facilities. That is only accomplished through the completion of both phases.
During construction, it is estimated that ACT will add an estimated $300 Million to our Gross Domestic Product, and create almost 2,500 full time person years of employment. Upon completion of both Phases, ACT will generate almost 1,000 permanent jobs, and have an annual economic impact of over $95M.
In a historically resource-based economy, shifting to new economic drivers is paramount to the wellbeing of the economy and the prosperity of every Calgarian. ACT will also contribute millions to Canada’s GDP and provide taxes to all 3 levels of government, helping pay for government programs and services, such as schools, health care, and cultural activities.
ACT will also have a positive social impact. The arts bring people together, increase understanding, empathy, and resilience, inspire creativity, and activate imagination, ultimately leading to new possibilities. Calgary’s youth will benefit academically, socially, and creatively, by having more ways to participate in the arts. Through ACT, the Arts Commons vision of a creative and compassionate society inspired through the arts can be a reality.
ACT will play a pivotal role in the realization of Calgary’s visionary cultural and entertainment district, and ensure access to more arts experiences for every Calgarian and vistor.
For updates and more information on the Arts Commons Transformation project, see: https://artscommons.ca/actnow
BMO Centre Expansion
The expansion effectively doubles the size of the BMO Centre to just less than 1million sq.ft., adding a new ballroom, new pre-function and assembly areas, more meeting spaces and exhibition halls along with other pubic amenities. When completed in 2024, the facility will be Canada’s second largest convention and trade centre and be able to accommodate larger national and international events.
An expanded BMO Centre will see a significant annual economic impact through attracting and hosting larger conferences and conventions to enhance trade and tourism and by creating jobs for Albertan including the following:
- More than 1,800 jobs will be created with construction and more than 1,700 jobs after opening.
- An annual economic impact of $267M to Canada’s GDP, including $223M for Alberta, after opening.
In addition, between now and 2024, the BMO Centre will be a major catalyst in the initial development of the River’s District serving as an anchor to attract private investment into new local businesses.
A multisport fieldhouse has been identified as a high priority for The City and Calgarians, based on the 10-Year Strategic Plan for Sport Facility Development (2008), citizen feedback and through its high priority ranking on the Community Services Infrastructure Investment Plan list.
The facility will also address an event-ready infrastructure gap as identified by Tourism Calgary. The facility will provide spaces capable of hosting provincial, national and international athletics, rectangular field, and gymnasium court competitions.
Presently, Calgary remains the only major Canadian city without a proper indoor facility for athletics and other field sports.
The proposed location for the multisport fieldhouse would be on the grounds of Foothills Athletic Park, which is located at 2424 University Dr. N.W. Foothills Athletic Park is directly west of Crowchild Tr. and south of 24th Ave. N.W.
The cost of the multisport fieldhouse is estimated at $285.8 million over a five-year period, including inflation.
The timeline to complete the project is estimated at five years from the time funding becomes available.
Event Centre in Victoria Park
Please see the Event Centre FAQ page.