Arts Commons Transformation (ACT)

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

On Friday, October 9, 2020, along with our partners the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) and The City of Calgary, we announced the completion of a tri-party development agreement that will initiate the design process for ACT and position CMLC as development manager responsible for stewarding the design process on behalf of the partners. With the freshly signed agreement in place, the first step in the design process will be a competitive procurement process to assemble the design team who will be responsible for the design development over the next two years.

“We are thrilled to be initiating this first step in the process with CMLC and The City of Calgary, bringing forward a vibrant vision that reflects Calgary’s future.” - Alex Sarian, President and CEO of Arts Commons.

View the media release.

Monday, February 24, 2020
On Friday, February 21, 2020, the Provincial Government announced that the Glenbow would receive up to $40 million in infrastructure funding as part of their revitalization project. Arts Commons is thrilled with this news and is in full support. Along with the City and CMLC, we are committed to the elevation of arts and culture in our community, economic recovery, and the revitalization of the downtown core and its cultural district. This grant from the provincial government demonstrates the kind of vision and collaboration that is needed from all levels of government in order to achieve these goals. Making the Arts Commons Transformation project a reality aligns with these shared goals and we look forward to continuing discussions with our funding partners on ACT. In the meantime, Arts Commons is working with The City of Calgary and Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) to formalize the development agreement for CMLC to serve as project manager on the facility and initiate the detailed design process. We have full City support and look forward to getting all funding mechanisms in place so that we can move forward. Funding for the design work will come out of the City approval of $25M in MSI (Municipal Sustainability Initiative) money.

To date, we have 1,886 signatures from the private community in support of ACT and 320 letters of support from the business community.

Monday, September 30, 2019
City Council votes 12 to 2 in favour of the motion to endorse ACT and approve the appropriation of $22.5M in Cultural Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding ($2.5M was previously approved) for ACT, with authorization to invest $10M to achieve the detailed design work necessary for Phase One and Two. 

“This project actually has had far, far more work done for many years than any of the other three projects, in fact all of them combined,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday. “Frankly, they’ve been at it for so long it’s ready to go. It’s time to move forward.” (Calgary Herald, Oct 1, 2019)

Read full Herald article: City Council Approves Release of Funds

Friday, August 30, 2019
At an event held at Arts Commons’ Jack Singer Concert Hall, the Honourable Kent Hehr announced the Government of Canada’s support of the Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) project.

At the direction of The City of Calgary, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) recently completed a review of the functional program and determined the total project cost of Phase One of ACT to be $240 million. The City of Calgary is seeking support from both the provincial and federal orders of government.

Through a bilateral agreement signed more than 14 months ago, the federal government has made available over $140.5 million dollars in federal funding to support improved community infrastructure across Alberta, under the Community, Culture and Recreation program.

Federal dollars are available today and the federal government has approved $80 million in funding for this project from the Community, Culture and Recreation program, contingent on the City and Province contributing the remaining dollars needed to complete the project. The City of Calgary has already committed $25 million through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI).

View the media release

July 4, 2019

A meeting is scheduled for Friday, July 19, 2019, for the ACAC (Arts Commons Advisory Committee) to receive the final report from the Functional Program Review Working Group, which will be completed by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC).

June 30, 2019
The Functional Program Review Working Group has completed its work, reviewing and assessing the functional program. A report is to be submitted by the committee to the ACAC.

April 8, 2019 
While unclear as to what specific projects this funding will apply to, we were pleased to hear the Federal government will support local (municipal) infrastructure priorities by providing a one-time top-up of $2.2 billion. This doubles the federal municipal infrastructure commitment in 2018-19, and will help municipalities pay for crucial repairs and other important local projects. (

March 27, 2019
The Functional Program Review Working Group work begins. Arts Commons met with the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) to draft a process for achieving the Working Group objectives. CMLC is in the process of meeting with resident companies to update and confirm resident company requirements and finalize the overall functional program. The hope is to have this work completed by the end of June, along with final cost estimates for the project.

March 25, 2019
With the addition of new team members joining the resident companies over the years, Arts Commons management and board hosted management and board members of each resident company for an evening, to provide additional information on ACT, and answer questions. This provided a foundation of knowledge to help facilitate future meetings and engagements with the Functional Program Review Working Group.

March 12, 2019
The Arts Commons Advisory Committee (ACAC) is finalized with the following members:

  • City Councillors: Druh Farrell, Shane Keating, Evan Woolley
  • City Manager, Glenda Cole
  • Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) President & CEO, Michael Brown
  • Arts Commons Chief Development Officer and Interim Co-CEO (non-voting), Greg Epton
  • Arts Commons Past Board Chair (non-voting), Henry Sykes
  • Calgary Arts Development Authority Ltd. (CADA) President & CEO (non-voting), Patti Pon

The mandate of the Committee is to complete a fulsome review and assessment of the renovation and expansion of the Arts Commons facility [Arts Commons Transformation project "ACT Project"], as adopted by Council (CPS2011-48) and report back to Council.

The Committee's specific responsibilities include:

  • A review and assessment of the ACT Project including:
    • the proposed project's alignment with Council priorities and The City's strategy, plans, research and policies;
    • the community need for and benefit of the proposed project's programs and offerings; and
    • the proposed project consistent with the Investing in Partnerships Policy capital project evaluation framework including the project business case; functional plan/program; operating plan and proformas; project budget (including costing); governance and project funding.
  • Provide a recommendation to Council regarding the ACT Project viability, funding, governance and implementation.

The ACAC also created three Working Groups, each comprised of relevant stakeholders tasked with achieving specific objectives:

  1. Functional Program Review Working Group
  2. Cultural & Convention District Working Group
  3. Financial Assessment Working Group

(Source: City of Calgary website:

March 4, 2019
After almost 13 hours in closed-door meetings, Calgary City Council approved the financial strategy for all four of the city’s long-term, previously unfunded projects (BMO Centre expansion, the Event Centre, Phase 1 of Arts Commons Transformation, and the Multi-Sport Fieldhouse). The presentation, recommendations, and closed session discussion currently remain confidential. While this decision provides some cause for celebration, there is still a lot of uncertainty, including the prioritizing of the projects and how the $71M in critical lifecycle issues that Phase 2 would focus on will be addressed.

Related news articles: 

February 22, 2019
Arts Commons joins the panel discussion hosted by Wordfest to discuss the Rivers District Master Plan and “What’s in it for YYC Arts & Culture”? Audience members voiced their concerns that artists don’t have a place to develop their skills, be supported, earn some money, and be valued. Many discussed the success of the new King Edward C-Space. Simon Mallett, former Artistic Director at Downstage (an Arts Commons Resident Company) and current ED at the Rosza Foundation, based in C-Space explained that Arts Commons is such a place, but that these support systems are not always visible due to the limitations of its infrastructure.

February 18, 2019
On February 4, 2019, in a Combined meeting of Council, two additional Councillors were named to the Arts Commons Advisory Committee (ACAC):

  1. Councillor Evan Woolley
  2. Councillor Shane Keating

February 1, 2019
On January 28, 2019 Calgary City Council held an important Strategic Meeting. The intent of the meeting was to strategize about funding and timing for four major unfunded capital projects: the BMO expansion, the event centre, the fieldhouse, and the Arts Commons Transformation Project (ACT). Council met for more than 9 hours, most of which was held in closed session. While formal decisions on funding and timing were not made on January 28, Council did pass two key resolutions to keep the conversation moving forward:

  1. Direct Administration to return with an update to Council no later than April 2019 with further refined options to optimize funding, financing and schedules for all four unfunded long-term projects
  2. That Council appoint Councillor Farrell as Chair and nominate up to two (2) Councillors to serve as members of the Arts Commons Advisory Committee (ACAC)

In the News:

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