Arts Commons Transformation (ACT)

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).

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: