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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why do we need this now?

Calgary’s population is projected to triple since Arts Commons opened its doors in 1985 (as has Arts Commons’ annual visitors), and diversified significantly, bringing an increased need for access to a diverse range of gathering spaces. We have maximized all available capacity to achieve revenues from our current venues, turning away approximately 600 revenue-generating events every year. If we are to continue to increase earned revenues and be financially sustainable over the long term, we must add more revenue generating spaces. 

Similarly, Olympic Plaza will restore an aging Calgary cultural landmark as a seamless extension of Arts Commons and foster continued revitalization of the downtown core.

The new Arts Commons Campus (including both ACT and OPT) will contribute to an economically diverse community, aligning with Calgary and Alberta’s long-term vision, and contribute to the cultural fabric of Calgary, both attracting and retaining talent, building life-long Calgarians. 

Additionally, this transformational project will have both an immediate (during construction) and a long-term (annually thereafter) economic impact, through job creation and economic activity. The expanded use of the facility will result in a healthy annual operating surplus, providing future sustainability.

What changes can we expect to see?

The Expansion of Arts Commons will add approximately 25-35% more seating capacity and additional gathering spaces for the community. Olympic Plaza will be renewed in conjunction to ensure an integrated campus and community experience. The Modernization of the current Arts Commons facility will be completed after the expansion and renewal of Olympic Plaza are complete.

The Expansion will be completed first so the resident companies and user groups that use the current facility have somewhere to operate while Modernization is underway. The expanded use will generate enough revenue to sustain the existing facility operations.

What happens to Teatro?

Teatro will remain in its heritage building and continue to serve the Calgary community. The Arts Commons expansion will be located on the north side of the city block, north and east of Teatro. The project teams continue to work with Teatro to ensure our guest experience is world class.

How much is this project going to cost?

The entire ACT and OPT project is projected to cost $660M, with $419.8M already secured from municipal, provincial, and private funders. The first phase will see the expansion of Arts Commons, adding a 1,000-seat performance venue and supporting spaces, as well as the renewal of Olympic Plaza.

A public fundraising campaign for the remainder of the project is currently underway and will launch in late 2024.

How will the building sustain itself?

ACT will position Arts Commons and the resident companies for future sustainability. The expanded use will generate enough revenue to sustain the existing facility operations. 

What kind of impact will ACT have on Calgary?

ACT and OPT provide the opportunity to lean into today’s unique challenges to invest in a better tomorrow, supporting the creative economy and the growing arts and culture workforce, and contributing to an economically diverse community by jump-starting both short and long-term job creation and economic activity.

See our Impact page for more details.

“Arts Commons is the beating heart of Calgary's downtown.”

~ The Honourable Doug Black, Canadian Senator

“Arts Commons will be a key contributor to the social, economic, cultural, and intellectual life and well-being of Calgarians and visitors alike, and an important building-block for the revitalization of the downtown core suffering.”

~ Mayor Naheed Nenshi

"Bringing back Alberta’s economic strength and attracting investment will require a complete community. That includes infrastructure as well as quality of life elements, like professional sports teams and of course a strong and vibrant arts and culture scene. These are all important pieces of making people and companies want to move to and stay in Calgary. The Arts Commons Transformation will enhance our ability to succeed while providing much needed capacity for citizens to enjoy performance arts."

~ Ric McIver, Minister of Transportation

"The quality of a community’s cultural infrastructure has a direct impact on quality of life and therefore, on the competitiveness ​of communities in attracting people ​and investment."

~ Canadian Council of Chief Executives

"CMLC is proud to be a partner on this project that is adding to the cultural identity of Calgary. We are confident the team will provide a design solution that improves the resiliency, accessibility and capacity of Arts Commons and that its experiences will be designed to meet the needs of the community for years to come."

~ Kate Thompson, President and CEO, CMLC