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 annually by over 200 community groups.

The Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) project of expanding and modernizing Arts Commons supports the goal of improving and diversifying Calgary’s economy and is a key contributor to Calgary’s overall Downtown Strategy.

Project update - September 2022

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), together with their partners at Arts Commons and The City of Calgary, announced the selection of EllisDon as construction manager for the Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) project.

EllisDon, a leader in large-scale construction for more than 70 years, will advise on the constructability and delivery of the project while it is being designed, streamlining the transition from design to development when the time comes to break. 

Check out Arts Commons Transformation for more details on the design team and the overall investment for this city building initiative. 

The Project

Executed in two phases, Arts Commons Transformation will expand capacity in a new building and modernize the existing facility.

Phase one of ACT will see the expansion of a new building that will include a versatile, 1,000-seat theatre and supporting amenities.

Phase two of ACT involves the modernization of the existing facility that will be more accessible, with upgraded amenities and technology.

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.


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

Phases of the Arts Commons transformation

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

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