Calgary to get $103M boost from province for Arts Commons, Olympic Plaza projects

A substantial boost to Calgary’s art scene was laid out by the province Friday, as part of Budget 2024.

Premier Danielle Smith was joined by members of Calgary’s arts community and Tanya Fir, Minister of Arts, Culture, and Status of Women, for an update on two premiere arts, entertainment, and culture hubs in the heart of Calgary.

“It is an undisputed part of Calgary’s identity and we want to ensure the show continues to go on bigger and better than ever,” Smith said. “That’s why we’re investing $103 million over the next seven years to transform Arts Commons, western Canada’s largest arts centre, along with Olympic Plaza, a historic and much-beloved fixture of Calgary’s downtown core.”

Alex Sarian with Arts Commons says this boost brings them to 65 per cent of the overall goal well before shovels hit the ground for the first phase of construction.

“I am proud to say that we now have raised more than $420 million towards our goal of $660 [million],” he said.

The construction is projected to create almost 3,500 full-time construction jobs and add $424 million in GDP to the provincial economy.

“We are supporting Arts Commons to expand it’s physical footprint and impact, making it one of the largest indoor and outdoor arts-focused spaces in Canada,” said Fir.

According to the province, in 2021, the visual and applied arts and live performance industries, contributed approximately $1.1 billion in GDP and sustained more than 15,000 jobs in Alberta.

According to an analysis by Hill Strategies of the 2021 census, there are 18,100 artists living in Alberta (nine per cent of all artists in the country).

The project is part of Calgary’s revitalization strategy for the downtown core.

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