Accountability Report 2018

Reports & Research Category: Annual Reports: Accountability & Impact

Jean-Michel Blais in the Studio Bell Performance Hall

Accountability Report 2018

In late November of 2018, City Council approved a transformational increase to Calgary Arts Development’s budget, which will help build a more sustainable, resilient arts sector, and contribute to a more vibrant, connected, and prosperous city for all Calgarians.

The increase to our budget is the most significant show of confidence from City Hall that the sector has seen in regard to how meaningful a role the arts sector plays in the economic and social development of our city.

Our colleagues with the arts and culture division are part of the recreation department at The City of Calgary and while Calgary Arts Development is a separate entity from The City, our aspirations align with our colleagues and the overarching civic policies within the City such as imagineCalgary, the Civic Arts Policy, Cultural Plan, Recreation Master Plan, and Centre City Plan. The arts sector adds to a community’s vibrancy and sense of place by creating opportunities for active and creative expression, social gatherings, cultural events, and community festivals that generate social connections, cultural vibrancy, and a greater sense of belonging.

The Recreation Master Plan states the following: “The National Recreation Statement, published by the federal/provincial/territorial Ministers responsible for sport, physical activity and recreation, acknowledges recreation as a fundamental human need and a social service in much the same manner as health and education. This is significant, and indicates that the focus of service provision should have a broad community scope… Calgarians believe the provision of a variety of accessible and affordable recreation opportunities is a fundamental responsibility of The City of Calgary, and that such services are vital to overall individual and community wellness.” This statement reinforces our citizens’ shared belief in public funding for arts and culture—a public good—which was endorsed by an increase to the municipal investment in the arts approved by City Council in November 2018, taking our grant from $6.4M to $12.4M in 2019 and up to $15.9M by 2022. Thank you Mayor Nenshi and Councillors.

As an organization that stewards public dollars for the public good, we believe in the power of the arts to bring people together, to celebrate and reflect who we are as humans, and to manifest people’s innate creativity. Calgary’s arts development strategy Living a Creative Life envisions a city that empowers every resident to live a creative life, fueling a vital, prosperous, and connected city. We also believe the arts are a pathway for inclusion and that the arts can model what an inclusive society could look like.

In 2018 Calgary Arts Development board and staff continued to focus on the three priorities of the 2015-2018 strategic plan—raising the value of the arts, building partnerships, and leveraging resources—while preparing for a new four-year cycle. The pages of this report attest to the many programs and events that supported the 2015-2018 strategic priorities. As we move forward together, we see boundless possibilities for arts-led city-building whereby the arts can contribute in a more meaningful way to a renewed vision and identity for Calgary for the benefit of all Calgarians.

Patti Pon, President & CEO, and Dean Prodan, Board Chair

 Jean-Michel Blais in the Studio Bell Performance Hall
NMC and Sled Island present neoclassical pianist Jean-Michel Blais at Studio Bell | Photo: Sebastian Buzzalino, courtesy of the National Music Centre

About Calgary Arts Development

As the city’s designated arts development authority, Calgary Arts Development supports and strengthens the arts to benefit all Calgarians. We invest and allocate municipal funding for the arts provided by The City of Calgary and leverage these funds to provide additional resources to the arts sector.

Our Why: We believe that art infusing the lives of Calgarians has the power to build our city.

Our Vision: A creative, connected Calgary through the arts.

Our Mission: We support and strengthen the arts to benefit all Calgarians.

To deliver on our mission, we are:

  • A connector, facilitator and collaborator.
  • A champion, supporter and amplifier.
  • An investor in artists and arts organizations.
  • A catalyst and opportunity-maker.

2015 – 2018 Strategic Plan

2018 was the last year of Calgary Arts Development’s 2015 – 2018 strategic plan. The plan’s three strategic priorities were:

  1. Raise Value: Calgary Arts Development continues its leadership role in the arts and with other stakeholders to make the arts integral to the lives of Calgarians.
  2. Build Relationships: Calgary Arts Development fosters collaborative relationships across sectors and communities to help ensure that Calgarians can experience art in their everyday lives.
  3. Increase Resources: Calgary Arts Development identifies ways to increase and sustain our finances and expertise, and uses these resources wisely for greater impact.

These priorities all contribute to Calgary Arts Development’s desired outcome for 2018: “By 2018, Calgary is recognized as a creative and artistically vibrant city that inspires Calgarians and the world.”

Overall, the 2015 – 2018 strategic plan aligns with four out of five City priorities in The City of Calgary’s Action Plan (A Prosperous City, A City of Inspiring Neighbourhoods, A Healthy & Green City, and A Well-Run City), and is explicitly aligned to Living a Creative Life: An Arts Development Strategy for Calgary.

Read Calgary Arts Development’s Strategic Plan

Aidan Pfeifer in Amahl and the Night Visitors
Aidan Pfeifer in Amahl and the Night Visitors | Photo: Trudie Lee Photography, courtesy of Calgary Opera

Community Investment

In line with the 2004 Calgary Civic Arts Policy, Calgary Arts Development is responsible for establishing arts investment programs for capital projects, organizations’ annual operations, individual artists, and other purposes that strengthen Calgary’s arts sector. Calgary Arts Development invests a minimum of 75% of the dollars received from The City of Calgary directly into the arts sector through grant investment programs, with the remaining 25% used to strengthen the arts sector through arts development activities and administration.

Calgary Arts Development’s approach to investment is broad, including direct monetary support through grant investments as well as fostering long-term resilience through capacity-building in the arts sector. Calgary Arts Development invested $5,138,755 in grants in 2018.

We ran the following investment programs in 2018:

Steve Poltz on stage with the Block Heater logo projected behind him
Steve Poltz performs during Block Heater | Photo: Melanie Boisvert, courtesy of the Calgary Folk Music Festival

Artist Opportunity Grant Program

Artist Opportunity Grant Program came to an end in summer 2018. This program invested in professional development opportunities for individual professional artists in Calgary, allowing them to take advantage of short-term opportunities that helped develop their careers. The grant contributed towards expenses related to a unique artistic or career opportunity to a maximum of $2,500. Although the grant investments were modest, the impact was often transformational. Each year demand for funding far outweighed the amount of investment available.

The 2018 Artist Opportunity Grant Program had only one intake on January 29. A total of 81 artists applied for a total of $156,933 in eligible requests. We were able to invest $30,001 (only 19% of the funds requested) in 19 artists (23% of eligible applicants).

2018 recipients (locations of the work undertaken with the grant are listed in brackets):

Alana Bartol, Hold Fast Artist Residency and Festival, Eastern Edge Gallery (St. John’s) ($2,250)
Richelle Bear Hat, La Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (Montreal) ($1,600)
Brittney Bear Hat, La Biennale d’art contemporain autochtone (Montreal) ($1,600)
Eric Cheung, Jack of Trades Street Dance Festival (Montreal) ($2,000)
Alixandra Cowman, Singer/Songwriter Residency (Banff) ($899.60)
Brett Dahl, National Voice Intensive (Toronto) ($1,150)
Christi-Nikao Dos Santos, Alberta Playwright’s Network RBC Emerging Artists Mentorship Program (Calgary) ($450)
Jillian Fleck, Exhibiting at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (Toronto) ($749.36)
Maria del Rocio Graham, Preparation for exhibition at Arts Commons +15 Windows (Calgary) ($1,000)
Laurel Green, Women’s Directing Intensive (Banff) ($750)
Penny Gunderson, International Encaustic Conference (Provinceton and Truro, MA) ($2,490.56)
Tanner Holthe, Banff Centre Residency (Banff) ($1,000)
Jacqueline Huskisson, Comic Blast Residency (Hämeenkyrö, Finland) ($2,162.66)
Brianna Johnston, Stage Combat and Wrestling Training (Vancouver) ($2,000)
Kim Lennox, Mastering of Footwear (London, UK) ($2,000)
Sondra Meszaros, ISCP International Studio & Curatorial Program Residency (New York) ($2,500)
Jennifer Saleik, Travel to install solo show (Cambridge, ON) ($1,150)
Donovan Seidle, Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (Toronto) ($1,750)
Pamela Tzeng, Premiere of new 30-minute ensemble dance work at CanAsian KickStart Festival (Toronto) ($2,500)

After its final intake, the Artist Opportunity Grant Program was succeeded by the Individual Artist Program.

Alana Bartol in a performance piece at the Hold Fast Artist Residency and Festival
Alana Bartol participates in the Hold Fast Artist Residency and Festival at the Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John’s, Newfoundland
| Photo: Courtesy of the Alana Bartol

More Information on the Artist Opportunity Grant Program

Individual Artist Program

This program–new in 2018–is intended to support all aspects of an artist’s practice and artistic goals by removing financial
barriers. We believe that investing in individual artists’ practices is fundamental to ensuring that Calgary is home to a vibrant
arts community and that Calgarians have access to meaningful artistic experiences. Artists could request $5,000 or $10,000
through this program.

Applications were assessed according to the criteria of artistic impact, public impact, innovation/learning, and planning. As
part of our responsibility to Calgarians to ensure equitable access to public funding, Calgary Arts Development is dedicated to
addressing and working to eliminate institutional inequity in our programs, policies, and practices.

We received a significant amount of interest and a record number of applicants to this program. 281 eligible applications
totalling requests of $2,390,000 were assessed. The funding pool of $300,000 (12.5% of the requested amount) was invested
in 33 artists (12% of eligible applicants).

2018 recipients:

Lanre Ajayi, Visual Arts ($10,000)
Laura Anzola, Film & Media Arts ($10,000)
Dana Buzzee, Visual Arts ($10,000)
Ethan Cole, Multidisciplinary Practice ($10,000)
Jason de Haan, Visual Arts ($10,000)
Colin Dingwall, Theatre ($10,000)
Nii Gyamfi, Music & Sound ($10,000)
Mark Kunji Ikeda, Dance ($10,000)
Sasha Ivanochko, Dance ($10,000)
Kevin Jesuino, Theatre ($10,000)
Nine Kennedy, Curation ($5,000)
Miranda Krogstad, Multidisciplinary Practice ($10,000)
Kerry Maguire, Multidisciplinary Practice ($10,000)
Justin Many Fingers, Indigenous Arts ($10,000)
Sushree Mishra, Dance ($10,000)
Sylvie Moquin, Dance ($10,000)
Al Muirhead, Music & Sound ($10,000)
Melanee Murray-Hunt, Theatre ($10,000)
Jay Northcott, Theatre ($10,000)
Alicia Pirmohamed, Literary Arts ($10,000)
Jenna Rodgers, Theatre ($5,000)
Elmira Sarreshtehdari, Visual Arts ($5,000)
Sharon Stevens, Multidisciplinary Practice ($10,000)
Teresa Tam, Visual Arts ($5,000)
Michelle Thrush, Indigenous Arts ($10,000)
Su Lin Tseng, Dance ($5,000)
Fatemeh Tara Vahab, Visual Arts ($10,000)
Malavika Venkatsubbaiah, Dance ($10,000)
Sandra Vida, Visual Arts ($10,000)
Javier Vilata, Visual Arts ($10,000)
Matthew Waddell, Digital Arts ($10,000)
Elaine Weryshko, Theatre ($10,000)
Nicole Kelly Westman, Visual Arts ($5,000)

People enjoy Laura Anzola's Blue Borders
Laura Anzola’s Blue Borders was funded by the Canada Council of the Arts and Alberta Foundation of the Arts | Photo: Courtesy of Laura Anzola

More Information on the Individual Artist Program


The ArtShare Program is intended to provide equitable access to support for individuals and groups that identify with diverse communities and often experience barriers related to artistic practice. This program invests in artists, arts organizations and arts initiatives that contribute to a diverse and inclusive arts community on behalf of all the citizens of Calgary.

In 2018 the program invested $264,268 (up 67% from $157,934 in 2017) in 25 projects (almost double the 13 projects in 2017).

2018 recipients:

Andrew Abildgard ($10,000)
Action Dignity ($10,000)
Lola Adeniran ($10,000)
Lanre Ajayi ($7,000)
Chris Aquart ($2,832)
Kathy Austin ($10,000)
Calgary Queer Arts Society, Lougheed House, Big Kitty Collective, and PRIDE ($22,201)
Carol Cowan ($10,000)
Generation Indigenous ($2,075)
Olivia Golosky and Danni Black ($5,500)
Tito Gomez ($2,800)
Adriena Caitlyn Goulet-Pantherbone ($9,000)
Shirley Hill ($5,000)
Iiniitsti Treaty Arts Society ($20,000)
IRIM, Curtis Lefthand ($20,000)
Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society ($30,000)
Tereasa Maillie ($6,200)
Jessica McMann ($15,000)
Jumoke Olatunde ($12,420)
Melanie Parsons ($6,390)
Philippine Festival Council of Alberta ($10,000)
SPARK Disability Arts Festival ($1,500)
Shaylene White Eagle, Canadian Roots Exchange ($1,350)
Woezo Africa Music and Dance Theatre ($35,000)

Tara Vahab in Be! Cause Stars Shine by Newspaper Queen
Be! Cause Stars Shine by Newspaper Queen (Tara Vahab) | Photo: Ethel Dalid, courtesy of the LOUD Art Society

artsVest Alberta

artsVest is Business for the Arts’ national flagship program that works directly with small to mid-sized arts organizations, equipping them with in-depth training, tools and mentorship relationships. These components are thoughtfully created to build sustainable partnerships between arts and businesses and to spark sponsorship opportunities. As an added incentive, artsVest participants can apply for matching grants—for every one dollar raised in sponsorship artsVest Alberta matches it with another dollar doubling their sponsorship opportunity.

artsVest Alberta launched a two-year program in 2017 which ended December 2018. Calgary Arts Development contributed $75,000 to sponsorship matching funds for Calgary arts organizations. In 2018, 27 arts organizations in Calgary participated by creating 54 partnerships with local businesses by generating $289,000 in business sponsorships.

More Information on artsVest Alberta

Operating Grant Investments

Calgary Arts Development provides operational support to non-profit organizations with year-round, arts-driven programming through the Cornerstone Program and the Operating Grant Program. Operational funding is the single largest investment made by Calgary Arts Development each year. These investments support organizations that demonstrate high artistic impact, public impact, and organizational resiliency. Organizations may allocate these funds to any areas of their overall budgets. Operating grants are important to arts organizations, giving them a stable foundation on which to create, produce, and present public events, program, and productions.

In 2018, Calgary Arts Development invested $3,958,560 (compared to $3,838,610 in 2017) in 153 Organizations (159 in 2017). The organizations listed below produced or presented a total of 24,839 events (23,630 in 2017) for a total audience of 2,949,196 (3,385,616 in 2017).

Demand for operating funds continues to outweigh the funding pools available.

Cornerstone Companies

In the arts sector, there are certain organizations that have a history of programming and resonance that contributes to our
city’s identity locally, regionally and internationally. Most are of a certain scale, and they demonstrate the capacity and
intention to take on active roles as leaders and mentors to their peers and others in the community. Within our own arts
ecology, we call these the cornerstone companies. These companies remind us, and help tell the world, who we are as a
community and how arts contribute meaningfully to building our great city.

In 2017, Calgary’s cornerstone companies alerted Calgary Arts Development and city council to challenges they were facing
due to both the economic downturn and a freeze on their operating grants over the previous eight years. The City responded
with a one-time $2M bridge fund, in addition to their annual operating funding, to help the cornerstones navigate the
difficulties they were facing. Contingent on receiving the bridge fund were two requirements: first, that a rigorous assessment
process was created to determine how the $2M would be disbursed amongst the 10 cornerstone companies, and second, that
the cornerstones and Calgary Arts Development would create a sustainability framework to be presented back to City Council
in Q2 of 2018.

In 2018, there was no bridge funding and cornerstone companies’ investments went back to their 2017 base amounts plus an increase of 4.5% cost of living allowance (COLA) to demonstrate the increasing costs the cornerstone companies face.

2018 operating grants (OG) and COLA to cornerstone companies:

Alberta Ballet ($213,180)
Alberta Theatre Projects ($297,825)
Calgary Folk Music Festival ($94,050)
Calgary Opera ($213,180)
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra ($303,050)
Glenbow ($141,075)
National Music Centre ($57,475)
One Yellow Rabbit ($78,375)
Theatre Calgary ($303,050)
Theatre Junction ($80,465)

Alex Janvier: Modern Indigenous Master on display at Glenbow
Tondo wall in Alex Janvier: Modern Indigenous Master | Photo: Elyse Bouvier, courtesy of Glenbow

More Information on the Cornerstone Program

Operating Grant Program

In addition to the cornerstone companies, Calgary Arts Development provides annual operating grants to 143 non-profit arts organizations with year-round, arts-driven operations. Organizations may allocate these funds to any areas of their overall budgets.

2018 operating grant recipients:

Arts Service Organizations

Alberta Craft Council ($8,740)
Alberta Media Arts Alliance ($6,000)
Alberta Playwrights’ Network ($11,000)
Alberta Printmakers ($17,500)
Book Publishers Association of Alberta ($4,050)
Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers ($37,500)
Canadian Academy of Mask and Puppetry ($3,000)
Canadian Music Centre, Prairie Region Association ($15,500)
CJSW 90.9 FM ($37,500)
Elephant Artist Relief (EAR) ($4,000)
Pumphouse Theatres ($39,130)
Quickdraw Animation Society ($42,500)
Stage Left Productions ($8,550)
Theatre Alberta ($12,400)
West Village Theatre ($7,000)
Writers Guild of Alberta ($6,000)

Community (All)

Alberta Dance Theatre for Young People ($3,200)
Alexandra Writers’ Centre ($5,000)
Alliance Francaise ($10,000)
Antyx Community Arts ($18,000)
Artpoint Gallery & Studios ($4,500)
Brazilian Community Association of Alberta ($5,000)
Calgary Protospace ($3,600)
Calgary Young People’s Theatre ($9,000)
Curiously Canadian Improv Guild ($3,420)
Fire Exit Theatre ($4,000)
Footprints Dance Project ($2,300)
Front Row Centre Players ($7,600)
Gli Azzurri – Calgary Italian Dancers ($1,200)
Indefinite Arts Centre ($20,000)
Jeunesse Classique Ballet ($5,700)
Leighton Foundation and Art Centre ($16,500)
Loose Moose Theatre ($12,700)
Marda Loop Justice Film Festival ($3,000)
MoMo Movement Dance Theatre ($6,000)
Morpheus Theatre ($9,500)
Silver Stars Musical Revue ($2,000)
Single Onion ($3,800)
Southern Alberta Woodworkers ($1,250)
StoryBook Theatre ($28,000)
Studio C, Prospect Human Services Society ($8,900)
Suzirya Ukrainian Dance Theatre ($2,000)
The League of Extraordinary Albertans ($2,800)
Three Left Feet Movement Creations ($4,500)
Tryzub Ukrainian Dance ($3,000)

Community (Music)

Adult Recreational Choir ($6,000)
Amici String Program ($5,000)
Calgary Bach Festival ($3,500)
Calgary Boys’ Choir ($3,000)
Calgary Children’s Choir ($3,600)
Calgary Chinese Orchestra ($2,500)
Calgary Civic Symphony ($11,000)
Calgary Concert Band ($2,250)
Calgary Fiddlers ($6,500)
Calgary Foothills Barbershop Chorus ($3,600)
Calgary Girls Choir ($14,000)
Calgary Korean Canadian Choir ($2,500)
Calgary Men’s Chorus ($6,000)
Calgary Multicultural Choir ($3,500)
Calgary Renaissance Singers & Players ($4,200)
Calgary Round-Up Band ($4,500)
Calgary Youth Orchestra ($12,000)
Cantare Children’s Choir ($5,500)
EnChor Choral ($2,000)
Foothills Bluegrass Music Society ($2,750)
Harmony Guzheng Ensemble ($2,500)
Kantorei Choral Society ($6,000)
Mount Royal Choral Association ($6,500)
Music Calgary ($6,750)
Revv52 ($7,000)
Rocky Mountain Concert Band ($1,200)
Savridi Singers ($2,000)
Spiritus Chamber Choir ($5,000)
The Festival Chorus ($7,500)
Westwinds Music ($5,000)
Youth Singers of Calgary ($19,500)


Calgary Blues Music Association ($43,200)
Calgary International Children’s Festival ($110,000)
Calgary International Film Festival ($74,000)
Calgary International Fringe Festival ($35,000)
Calgary Performing Arts Festival ($10,000)
Calgary Queer Arts Society ($26,000)
Calgary Reggae Festival ($18,810)
Caribbean Community Council of Calgary ($5,000)
Exposure: Alberta’s Photography Festival ($25,000)
GlobalFest ($33,300)
Hispanic Arts Society ($18,000)
International Festival of Animated Objects ($4,100)
Sled Island ($66,000)
When Words Collide ($3,000)

Professional Performing (All)

Acoustic Music Society of Calgary ($3,000)
Calgary Animated Objects ($48,000)
Calgary Pro Musica ($15,000)
Classical Guitar Society of Calgary ($6,000)
Corps Bara Dance Guild of Calgary ($2,950)
Cowtown Opera ($5,200)
Dancers’ Studio West ($27,250)
Decidedly Jazz Danceworks ($95,000)
Early Music Voices Concert Society ($5,800)
Fish Creek Concert and Cultural Society ($3,325)
Foothills Brass ($5,000)
Honens ($65,000)
Instrumental Society of Calgary ($3,000)
International Festival of Song and Chamber Music ($7,410)
JazzYYC ($7,000)
Kensington Sinfonia ($7,300)
La Caravan Dance Theatre ($3,000)
Land’s End Chamber Music Society ($9,000)
Luminous Voices ($10,000)
New Works Calgary ($7,000)
ProArts Society ($4,500)
Soulocentric ($4,600)
Springboard Dance Collective ($29,000)
W&M Dance Projects ($7,000)

Professional Performing (Theatre)

Downstage Performance ($15,000)
Forte Musical Theatre Guild ($6,300)
Ghost River Theatre ($16,500)
Green Fools Theatre ($13,000)
Handsome Alice Theatre ($10,000)
Inside Out Integrated Theatre Project ($12,300)
Lunchbox Theatre ($65,000)
Old Trout Puppet Workshop ($35,000)
Quest Theatre ($33,800)
Shakespeare Company ($4,800)
Swallow-a-Bicycle ($4,500)
Theatre Encounter ($2,000)
Trickster Theatre ($11,500)
Verb Theatre ($5,000)
Vertigo Theatre ($102,000)
W.P. Puppet Theatre ($5,400)

Professional (Presenting)

Calgary Allied Arts Foundation ($2,000)
Calgary Cinematheque ($13,000)
Calgary Underground Film Festival ($30,500)
Contemporary Calgary ($18,000)
EMMEDIA ($38,000)
FreeFall Literary Society ($7,000)
Illingworth Kerr Gallery ACAD ($8,550)
Mountain Standard Time Performative Arts Festival ($17,250)
Stride Art Gallery ($38,000)
The New Gallery ($38,500)
TRUCK ($45,000)
Untitled Art Society ($17,500)
WordFest ($70,000)

Colour fireworks in the sky above Elliston Park
Fireworks at GlobalFest | Photo: Mammen Tharakan, courtesy of GlobalFest

More information on the Operating Grant Program

Calgary Arts Development Operating Funding Comparisons

The following pie charts demonstrate some of the differences between the four categories within the Operating Grant Program: cornerstone, community (volunteer run), professional (paid staff), and festivals.

The cornerstones receive 45% of total operating grant investments and account for the majority of artistic spending amongst the 153 grant investees.

A graph of 2018's funding distribution next to a graph of arts organization expenditures in 2018

A graph of artists hired in 2018



Cornerstone organizations hold the majority of the hiring power within the pool of not-for-profit organizations funded by Calgary Arts Development, when it comes to full-time administrative and artistic staff. When considering artists alone however, significantly more artists are hired by the professional and community organizations.

While 86% or more of the artists hired by professional and community organizations were paid standard fees/salaries, 100% of the artists hired by cornerstone organizations were paid a standard fee or salary.



A graph showing 2018's full-time equivalent staff next to a graph showing 2018's volunteers

A graph showing 2018's artistic expenditures

Professional organizations and festivals present the majority of public activities.

A two graphs showing the break down of public activities


A graph of 2018 attendance at education activities (children and youth)

The 10 cornerstone organizations attract 34% of the total audience base.

A graphc showing 2018 attendence in Calgary

Remarkable Experience Accelerator

This unique investment program is delivered in partnership with the Calgary Hotel Association. In 2015, Calgary Hotel Association renewed a three-year commitment to the program and increased the investment to $1,200,000 over the three years, which ended in 2017. The program developed customized, multi-year investment strategies with arts organizations who present a compelling vision for remarkable experiences that benefit Calgarians and visitors alike.

In 2018, there was a one-year renewal to a much smaller program. Investments totaling $200,500 were made in the following organizations:

Calgary International Film Festival ($50,000)
Block Heater (Calgary Folk Music Festival) ($45,000)
Sled Island ($40,000)
Wordfest ($65,500)

Investments for this program were supported by the Calgary Hotel Association ($50,000) and the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association ($50,000).

A concert in a record store
Bad Buddy performs at Sloth Records | Photo: Ian Gregory, courtesy of Sled Island

More Information on the Remarkable Experience Accelerator


Calgarians engage with the arts in many ways—by creating, participating, attending and sharing. Calgary Arts Development hosts and leads a variety of programs and initiatives that investigate, develop, promote, and celebrate arts engagement in our city. In 2018 those activities included:

  • Living a Creative Life: An Arts Development Strategy for Calgary
  • Living a Creative Life Congress
  • Calgary Poet Laureate program
  • Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions
  • Cultural Leaders Legacy Artist Awards
  • Aisinna’kiiks Dinner and Dialogue Series

Engagement programs broaden the circle of arts champions and build momentum for the future by raising the value of the arts for Calgarians. These broader touch points with the public give greater meaning and value to our direct investments in Calgary’s arts community.

Living a Creative Life

Vision: Calgary is a place that empowers every resident to live a creative life, fuelling a vital, prosperous, and connected city.
Mission: To align and activate Calgarians in creating a vital, prosperous and connected city through the arts.

Since its launch in 2014, Living a Creative Life: An Arts Development Strategy for Calgary has gained momentum, both as a strategy and also as a way of life in our city. At the end of 2018 there were 170 signatories to the strategy, who adopt the vision of Living a Creative Life in their own strategies and plans.

More Information on Living a Creative Life

Living a Creative Life Congress

The 2018 Living a Creative Life Congress took place on November 21 at the New Central Library with approximately 140 participants in attendance. The purpose of the event was to explore the theme of Art and Social Change. The full-day congress started with a keynote address by Judith Marcuse, Founder and Co-Director of the International Centre of Art for Social Change. Attendees were invited to participate in the following workshop sessions:

  • Arts, Insight and Action: An Experiential Workshop led by Judith Marcuse
  • Shared Learnings from CommunityWise’s Anti-Racist Organizational Change Process led by Thulasy Lettner
    and Mel Vee
  • Smudging, Medicine Wheel Teachings, and Creating a Medicine Bag led by Chantal Chagnon
  • Beyond Engagement, The Art of Community Building led by Marichu Antonio and Cesar Cala
  • Inspiring Action Around Climate Change led by The Pembina Institute
  • Artists as Changemakers led by the artist cohort of the Trico Changemakers Studio, Mount Royal University

Feedback from the congress was positive, including the following comments made by participants:

  • There is a need to meet artists outside of my sector and explore other approaches to art and culture making.
  • It is important to get together as a community to share stories and resources.
  • Everyone needs a seat at the table.
  • There is value to having arts-based practices in community systems.
  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion requires planning and knowledge to be implemented in organizations—it’s not a quick change, but sharing resources and reframing conversations makes change possible.
  • Self care is just as important as caring for others.
  • Do not work alone when trying to motivate community members.
  • This congress Is a great opportunity to engage and know our community and create and build relationships among us.
A circle of participants move along to instructions in the Performance Hall of the new Central Library
Judith Marcuse leads an experimental workshop at the Living a Creative Life Congress | Photo: Amy Jo Espetveidt

More Information on the Living a Creative Life Congress

Calgary Poet Laureate Program

On July 26, 2011, City Council approved a motion to establish a Calgary Poet Laureate position, funded by Calgary Poet Laureate Ambassadors. Calgary Arts Development administers the program in conjunction with a volunteer selection committee who appoints each Calgary Poet Laureate for a two-year term. The Calgary Poet Laureate is intended to be an artistic ambassador for Calgary, presenting at civic events and producing literary works that reflect our city and its citizens. The timing of the Poet Laureate appointment aligns with UNESCO’s World Poetry Day (March 21) and National Poetry Month in April.

2018 wrapped up Micheline Maylor’s tenure as Calgary’s third Poet Laureate. During her two years, Micheline positioned herself as an active and influential voice for the community whose impact was felt across the city, province, and country. Throughout her term Micheline was invited to speak and attend over 100 events in her official role as Calgary’s Poet Laureate and was also featured and/or interviewed by over 50 media outlets.

Highlights for Micheline included countless mentorship, media, and community appearances and a new published book of poetry entitled Little Wildheart. She was also able to fulfill her vision of completing two legacy projects by the end of her term. With the first project, she created the opportunity for Calgarians to encounter poetry in unexpected places long after her term is complete by installing a plaque of her poetry on a piece of sidewalk outside City Hall.

The second project focused on creating opportunities for the next generation of poets by publishing an anthology featuring the work of several young poets, for many of whom this was their first opportunity to become published writers. The book titled Drifting Like a Metaphor was released on May 16, 2018 at Micheline’s Poet Laureate farewell event.

In April 2018, Calgary welcomed Sheri-D Wilson as Calgary’s fourth Poet Laureate. Sheri-D is an award-winning spoken word poet who has been instrumental in building the literary community of Calgary over the last several decades. Also an award-winning author, Sheri-D has been invited to perform all around the world; she is the author of nine collections of poetry, and was the founder of Calgary’s Spoken Word Festival and the Banff Centre’s Spoken Word Program. In 2018, Sheri-D produced a new Calgary poetry festival called Poetrology and was been invited to speak at and/or attend over 30 events in her first year as Poet Laureate.

The program awards each Poet Laureate an annual honorarium of $10,000, funded by a group of Calgary Poet Laureate Ambassadors. 2018 Ambassadors included the Calgary Foundation, the Calgary Chamber, and Brookfield Residential.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Sheri-D Wilson in Council Chambers
Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Calgary Poet Laureate Sheri-D Wilson | Photo: Amy Jo Espetveidt

More Information about the Calgary Poet Laureate Program

Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions

The Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions is an annual event organized by Calgary Arts Development and the Office of the Mayor that aims to celebrate and inspire both new and veteran arts champions to support Calgary’s arts sector through investment, promotion, and participation.

The sold-out event was held on April 18, 2018 at the BMO Centre, with more than 630 attendees.

Programming included a video presentation of the 2018 Cultural Leaders Legacy Artist Award recipients, the TELUS Youth Arts Showcase, a conversation with attendees about the ways in which people can champion the arts in our community, and comments from emcee Dave Kelly as well as His Worship Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Proceeds from the 2018 Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions contributed resources back into the arts sector through our grant investment programs. The 2018 event raised approximately $20,000.

Calgary Arts Development thanks the event’s sponsors:

Champion Sponsor
Strategic Group

Youth Arts Showcase Sponsor

VIP Table Sponsors
ATB Financial
Calgary Foundation

Arts Patron Table Sponsors
Aspen Properties
Brookfield Residential
Calgary Flames Foundation
TD Bank Group
University of Calgary

Video Sponsor
Nur Films

Floral Sponsor
Peaseblossoms Flowers & Stuff

Cieran Starlight dancing
Cieran Starlight performs at The 2018 Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions | Photo: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo

More Information on the 2018 Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions

Cultural Leaders Legacy Awards

The Cultural Leaders Legacy Artist Awards offered each of six recipients a $5,000 cash prize, totaling $30,000 to Calgary artists and arts organizations in 2018.

Presented each year at the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions, the awards are a legacy of our year as a Cultural Capital of Canada in 2012. Each award is funded by a $2,500 contribution from a local philanthropist or sponsor, with a $2,500 matching donation from the Calgary 2012 legacy fund.

The 2018 recipients were:

Wendy Passmore-Godfrey
ATB Financial Healing Through the Arts Award

Wendy Passmore-Godfrey founded W.P. Puppet Theatre Society in 1991 to explore social issues such as mental health, education, diversity, and the environment through original puppet performances and learning opportunities.

Inside Out Theatre
Sandstone City Builder Award

Inside Out Theatre is a momentous force using a well-rounded arts approach to insist on and celebrate people with disabilities’ place within Calgary’s cultural landscape.

Sandi Somers
Doug and Lois Mitchell Outstanding Calgary Artist Award

Sandi Somers, a passionate, award-winning filmmaker and mentor, creates thought-provoking films for audiences worldwide while working towards advancing women and LGBTQ in media arts in Calgary and Alberta.

Lanre Ajayi
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society New Canadian Artist Award

Lanre Ajayi is an emerging Nigerian artist and fashion designer based in Calgary and is driven to develop and launch his ethical fashion line in Canada. He is a visionary producing wearable fresh colours, patterns and silhouettes, all based on the inspired abstract paintings that he creates.

Sean Fraser
Colin Jackson and Arlene Strom Creative Placemaking Award

Sean Fraser has worked tirelessly towards the creation and promotion of affordable and accessible space for artists and the community to work within one space for the benefit of all.

Natasha Jensen
RBC Emerging Artist Award

Natasha Jensen’s art practice has a strong feminist voice that resonates through drawings, animations and programming that is disrupting the cultural landscape.

A special thank you to The Banff Centre for the Artist Residency granted to the 2018 Outstanding Calgary Artist Award recipient.

More Information on the Cultural Leaders Legacy Awards

Aisinna’Kiiks Dinner & Dialogue Series

Originally created and developed by the Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, the purpose of the dinner and dialogue series was to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. In 2017 we partnered with the Calgary Board of Education to create our own series. It was guided by elder Saa’kokoto (Randy Bottle), who gifted our Common Ground series the name Aisinna’kiiks, meaning those who record or those who draw.

On February 12, 2018 we re-convened folks from both the 2017 Aisinna’kiiks series and the 2016 Common Ground events to gather their thoughts and learnings. This event took place at Niitsitapi Learning Centre.

Participants expressed their appreciation for the elders, youth, and artists who took part and especially mentioned the power of learning from the elders’ stories. They were deeply affected by the power of the circle, new relationships that were forged, and the artistic responses to the conversations. Aisinna’kiiks demonstrated the powerful role that arts and artists can play in our reconciliation journey.


Appropriate, affordable, accessible arts spaces for all Calgarians continues to be a priority at Calgary Arts Development. Guided by the four detailed recommendations outlined in the 2017 Arts and Culture Infrastructure Strategy Building on our Momentum:

  • Ensure arts and culture infrastructure keeps up with demographic changes and population growth.
  • Infuse neighbourhoods throughout the city with creativity through accessible and vibrant spaces.
  • Protect and sustain our current arts and culture infrastructure.
  • Continue to invest in the creation of new arts and culture infrastructure.

Calgary Arts Development continued to work collaboratively with City departments and with other advocates for community creative space, while working to increase capacity for arts facilities managers through SpaceFinder Alberta and workshops.

Calgary Arts Development provided input to strategic plans and policies around arts spaces throughout 2018, including the Centre City Plan and the Beltline Area Redevelopment Plan Amendments. As part of the Community Hubs Initiative (The City of Calgary, United Way, Rotary), we advocated for creative space in Calgary neighbourhoods. In 2018 we began offering three different workshops to organizations operating non-profit and for-profit facilities that welcome arts uses, focusing on marketing and risk management in space rentals. We continue to support SpaceFinder Alberta, an online tool that helps Calgarians find available space in our communities.

Musicans perform at Farmers & Makers Market at cSPACE King Edward
Musicians underscore community during the Farmers & Makers Market at cSPACE King Edward | Photo: Courtesy of cSPACE

SpaceFinder Alberta

SpaceFinder Alberta completed its second full year of operations in 2018. SpaceFinder Alberta is part of a national initiative that has grown to 10 developed platforms in Canada with support from Canadian Heritage. Calgary Arts Development partnered with the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, ArtsBuild Ontario, and Fractured Atlas (New York) to launch SpaceFinder Alberta in Calgary.

This online marketplace links organizations that have space to rent with those who need space. SpaceFinder is a proven technology at work in municipalities across North America. Useful for all Calgarians, SpaceFinder Alberta includes detailed search criteria that pinpoint features needed by artists and arts organizations. Calgary Arts Development continued to partner with Edmonton Arts Habitat in 2018. By year-end there were over 1,350 different venues featured on SpaceFinder Alberta, most of them in Calgary.

“Out of 26 communities across North America, SpaceFinder Alberta has seen the most annual growth in number of listings per capita. Following New York City, Alberta is the second largest instance with the most space listings. The steadfast leadership of Calgary Arts Development has led to the success of SpaceFinder Alberta, and ArtsBuild Ontario is proud to be in partnership with them. Congratulations to everyone involved with SpaceFinder Alberta!”
– Alex Glass, Program Director & Assistant Executive Director, ArtsBuild Ontario/SpaceFinder in Canada

In addition to being a match-making service for renters and venues, SpaceFinder is also a database with built-in metrics reports (including rental rates, usage rates, user and venue data) that can be used by venues, analysts and policymakers.

The SpaceFinder Alberta public-facing marketplace has a searchable list of individual arts and culture spaces (over 1,350 at the end of 2018). Each listing includes a description of the space, address, hours, permitted uses, typical disciplines, availability, booking policies, and rates (optional).

Uses for this data are varied and impactful; this data supports analyses such as cumulative numerical data about amounts of square footage of spaces per discipline, per geographic area, rates per square foot, etc., as well as the ability to view and analyze a variety of texts such as descriptions of spaces and booking policies. The SpaceFinder Alberta data helps Calgary Arts Development identify gaps and opportunities for additional arts investment beyond spaces. For example, the data helps compare spaces in the neighborhoods to indicators around civic arts engagement, public art availability, and transit/accessibility.

Additionally, because SpaceFinder includes for-profit spaces, it helps bridge the data to economic indicators around the creative industries as identified among Calgary Economic Development’s strategic pillars.

SpaceFinder Alberta engagement experienced large growth in 2018. Due to grants from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, SpaceFinder Alberta was able to invest more in marketing. This includes Google adwords, display ads, and boosted Facebook posts.

More Information about SpaceFinder Alberta

Interactive Map

Published alongside the 2017 Arts and Culture Infrastructure Strategy, Calgary Arts Development created an interactive map to understand how arts and culture infrastructure correlates with demographic data. The mapping can be used to determine gaps in professional and non-profit arts spaces and culture, community and entertainment spaces that support living a creative life. The map is refreshed annually with new census and other data.

More Information on Existing Arts and Culture Infrastructure

Cultural Space Investment Process (CSIP)

The Cultural Space Investment Process (CSIP) was a capital project evaluation process established by Calgary Arts Development to inform City Council and the municipality of priorities for community-led cultural infrastructure projects. The City requested that there be no new intake of projects to CSIP as of 2016 while previously recommended projects were reviewed.

Projects previously recommended by CSIP assessors for municipal investment in spaces that support music, theatre, film, performing arts, and visual arts include:

Folk Festival Hall (completed)
University of Calgary’s Nickle Arts Museum (completed)
Mount Royal University’s Bella Concert Hall (completed)
Calgary Film Centre (completed)
DJD Dance Centre (completed)
Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre (completed)
cSPACE King Edward School Arts Incubator (completed)
Contemporary Calgary (Centennial Planetarium – base building work underway)
In-Definite Arts Society (funding being pursued through another City program)
Open Doors St Stephen’s (not funded)
Alberta Ballet’s Dance Facility (in development)
Calgary Opera Centre at the Calgary Stampede Youth Campus (in development)
cSPACE Projects’ Artist Studios (in development)

cSPACE Projects

cSPACE was created in 2011 as a subsidiary of Calgary Arts Development in partnership with the Calgary Foundation. Its purpose is to provide the conditions that diverse communities of creatives need to remain vital, sustainable and innovative while generating dividends for Calgarians across the city–shared space, vibrant community, and knowledge-sharing.

cSPACE King Edward opened in 2017 as their flagship project, delivering 47,500 sq. ft. of arts hub, innovative event venue and coworking space in Marda Loop. Over 30 tenants moved in to the facility in January, ranging from individual artists and collectives to non-profits like Alexandra Writers’ Centre, Rozsa Foundation, Theatre Encounter, Sage Theatre, Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, Forte Musical Theatre Guild, Quest Theatre, Alberta Craft Council, Alberta Magazine Publishers Association and Studio C Collaborative Art Centre. The building has been 100% leased out since opening day with few tenancy changes. In 2018, Cowtown Opera and Feast Letterpress became tenants.

In late 2017, the construction of the 6,500 sq .ft. contemporary ‘west wing’ was completed, including the top-floor RGO Treehouse event space and a coworking space. The Sandbox has 20 flexible coworking desks for use by freelancers, small companies, writers, designers, and non-profits working across sectors. The Treehouse is a highly adaptable event, meeting and conference space that supports community events, corporate launches, fashion and art shows, rehearsals, education seminars, artist discussions, and entrepreneurship training.

The 138-seat Studio Theatre was completed in the summer of 2018 with technical equipment to support multidisciplinary creative use. Since opening, the Studio Theatre has been a venue for dance, theatre, cinema, rehearsal, creation, and event use, demonstrating with success the intent of its multipurpose design and supporting organizations ranging from Cowtown Opera, Dancers’ Studio West, Theatre Encounter, Quest Theatre, Inside-Out Theatre, Luminous Voices, Spiritus Choir, and the two-week Fluid Festival by Springboard Performance.

Since 2017, the four historic hallways of the former school building were transformed into gallery exhibition and event space. Major exhibitions have included the People’s Portrait Prize, Ad Rodeo, and Exposure Photography Festival, some 200+ arts, culture, and community events including many individual multi-disciplinary artist shows have been hosted throughout the facility.

Three public art projects valued over $230,000 were commissioned by cSPACE through a juried process, supported in part by a new Alberta Foundation for the Arts grant. daniel j. kirk and Katie Green completed their Imaginarium project, stretched over four floors of a new glassed-in stairwell in 2017. Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow by Caitlind Brown, Wayne Garrett and Lane Shordee was substantially completed in 2018.

cSPACE was recognized for its vision to combine historic preservation with contemporary design for the development of the creative hub by receiving the Mayor’s Award for Urban Architecture in 2017. A National Trust Cornerstone Award for historic preservation was awarded to cSPACE King Edward in the category of Transformative Project in 2018.

Musicans perform outside of cSPACE King Edward
cSPACEMusicians underscore community during the Famers & Makers Market at cSPACE King Edward | Photo: Courtesy of cSPACE

More Information on cSPACE King Edward

Final Year of the 2015 – 2018 Strategic Plan Cycle

The following section outlines activities that supported the three strategic priorities of Calgary Arts Development’s 2015 – 2018 strategic plan: raising the value of the arts, building partnerships, and leveraging resources.

Raising the Value

One way to raise the value of the arts is through communications tools such as the following:


Integral to how Calgary Arts Development shares information, our website has been growing by leaps and bounds since its re-launch in 2016. In 2018, we implemented improvements in searchability and accessibility as well as creating a more stable form to gather submissions for awards, events, and classifieds. We also started an expansion project to make the site more robust with the aim of becoming a central community information hub.

The website generated the following activity in 2018:

  • 96,067 users (88,331 in 2017)
  • 200,246 sessions (178,971 in 2017)

What’s On in Calgary

Part of the Calgary Arts Development website, What’s On In Calgary offers a listing of events, exhibitions, festivals and performances in Calgary. In addition to being posted on our website, these listings are also promoted through a weekly newsletter and through social media. In 2018, What’s On shared 800 stories (749 in 2017) including a weekly round-up of free events, a seasonal summary of upcoming festivals, a monthly story showcasing visual arts, and 209 Hot Ticket productions (43 in 2017).


The Calgary Arts Development website hosts a sizeable and popular classifieds section. This free service is an online venue for sharing announcements relevant to the arts sector such as job listings, volunteer opportunities, audition notices, calls for submissions, educational opportunities, industry events, items for sale or wanted, requests for proposals, and notices of spaces available or wanted.

The classifieds fill an important communications niche for the arts community, and generated the following activity in 2018:


The Calgary Arts Development newsletter is sent out weekly to a mailing list that includes members of the sector, partners, and curious Calgarians. In 2018, the newsletter had an average of 3,690 subscribers throughout the year with a click rate of 7.73% and an open rate of 28.30%—all well above industry standards.

Each newsletter contains a summary of announcements, stories, events, contests, promotions, and a selection of the week’s classifieds, making it an easy way to stay informed about both Calgary Arts Development’s activities and those of the sector.

Social Media

Calgary Arts Development’s social media accounts act as a way to supplement our website and drive traffic to other members of the arts community. We have an active following on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and use SoundCloud, YouTube, Medium, and LinkedIn to store and share information.

Social media generated the following activity in 2018:

  • 4,937 followers with nearly 445,000 impressions on Facebook
  • 24,013 followers with over 1,032,000 organic impressions on @CalgaryArtsDev’s Twitter feed (industry focused)
  • 34,278 followers with over 1,840,000 organic impressions on @CalgaryCulture’s Twitter feed (local events)
  • 2,478 followers with 2,176 photos shared using #yycLCL on Instagram

The Storytelling Project

An idea that came out of the Creative Calgary Congress in 2015, The Storytelling Project features a weekly story about someone in Calgary who is living a creative life. Local arts writer Stephen Hunt conducts interviews and creates written stories about these creative Calgarians. A partnership with Village Radio added a bi-weekly podcast component featuring an interview by Dave Kelly with a creative Calgarian. And a partnership with Business on Camera saw the creation of a series of video stories. In 2018, we shared 18 written stories, 22 podcasts, and eight videos through The Storytelling Project.

A concert on the National Music Centre's skybridge
JazzYYC celebrates International Jazz Day at the National Music Centre | Photo: Dean T Mullin, courtesy of JazzYYC

Building Relationships

Calgary Arts Development maintained strong strategic partnerships with many partners such as Calgary Economic Development, Tourism Calgary, the Calgary Chamber, Downtown Calgary, MRU’s Trico Changemakers Studio, the Calgary Foundation, and many others to align strategies toward a shared city-building agenda.

Calgary Board of Education

Calgary Arts Development continues to participate on the Calgary Board of Education Fine Arts Advisory Council. In 2018, Calgary Arts Development staff participated on the full committee as well as the research sub-committee.

Calgary Economic Development

Calgary Economic Development is a signatory to the Living a Creative Life strategy and Calgary Arts Development is a lead stakeholder and key contributor on the new Calgary Economic Development strategy. We are very aligned and supportive of CED’s strategic priorities and the arts organizations and artists we invest in contribute greatly to their strategy.

Arts organizations and artists create vibrancy in the downtown core and in neighbourhoods across the city, helping make Calgary one of the most livable cities in the world. Centre city is a major focus of the CED strategy and Calgary Arts Development is an active participant in conversations around centre city, including engagement sessions about the Rivers and Entertainment District hosted by Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC). On an ongoing basis 40% of the activity generated by organizations we invest in take place in centre city.

Having a vibrant arts and culture scene helps make Calgary a magnet for talent—people want to live in a city that is vibrant and exciting, with lots of things to do. Being a centre for arts, culture and recreation contributes a strong sense of place, making Calgary an attractive place to live, work, play, and visit.

The arts promote well-being and belonging—important elements of shared prosperity. Fostering resilience and sustainability within the arts sector helps ensure arts organizations are able to provide access, affordability, and engagement through ticket discounts, free events, education and outreach programs.

In the new economy, creative industries have the potential to grow and help diversify the economy. A thriving arts scene contributes to the creation and development of content and talent—critical components of the creative industries.

As stated in the Economic Impact of the Arts study conducted by KPMG in 2018, the arts organizations that receive funding from Calgary Arts Development contributed $134M in value added GDP activity for Canada in 2017, with the large majority ($107M) occurring in Alberta; created 1,550 full-time equivalent jobs; and generated $16.6M in revenues that contributed to the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.

Calgary Foundation

Calgary Foundation is a signatory to the Living a Creative Life strategy and they include “everyone lives a creative life” as one of the measurable dimensions of their annual Vital Signs report. In the 2018 report, 82% of respondents agreed that “the arts enrich local communities,” but only 40% rated the “affordability of arts programs and events” as good or excellent.

The entire report can be found at

City of Calgary

Calgary Arts Development continues to work closely with The City of Calgary department of recreation and, in particular, with arts and culture, as well as with the Office of the Mayor. Patti Pon was on the steering committee for the Cultural Plan and participates on the Cultural Leadership Council alongside representatives from Calgary Economic Development, Action Dignity, Tourism Calgary, Calgary Heritage Authority, Federation of Calgary Communities, and the Calgary Public Library.

Calgary Arts Development is a key player in activating the Cultural Plan and contributes to its strategic priorities. Our vigorous equity, diversity, and inclusion focus supports the Cultural Plan’s strategic priority to celebrate Calgary’s diversity advantage. Our efforts and investments are always in support of growing Calgary’s cultural sector and creative industries.

Both our grant investment programs and arts development strategy Living a Creative Life help activate culturally vibrant neighbourhoods and districts. And many of the organizations supported by Calgary Arts Development reinforce centre city as the cultural heart of Calgary. Through our spaces initiatives including SpaceFinder, and our new Original Peoples Investment Program we contribute to conserving and celebrating Calgary’s built, natural, and Indigenous heritage.

Calgary Arts Development appoints a member to The City of Calgary’s Event Advisory Committee and a member of the Calgary Arts Development board sits on The City of Calgary Public Art board. We are participants in the new centre city plan, the festival and winter strategies committees, and we respond to issues concerning cultural spaces and infrastructure and the civic arts policy when requested.

Mount Royal University Trico Changemakers Studio

In 2018 Calgary Arts Development partnered with Mount Royal University’s Trico Changemakers Studio on a new program called Artists as Changemakers. Eight artists were sponsored, first to take the Social Innovation Certificate Program, and then to work together as a cohort to test the hypothesis that by inviting artists to work on a complex problem at the beginning of the process could yield powerful results. By the end of 2018 the cohort had created a residency program whereby artists will be paired with an organization working on a complex problem—the idea will be tested in 2019.

The artists who participated in all or part of the program were:

Barbara Amos
Mina Baluyot
Kevin Jesuino
Mark Hopkins
Skye Louis
Melanee Murray-Hunt
Sally Njoroge
Katie Pearce
Vicki Stroich

Our thanks to Jill Andres for her thoughtful guidance in co-creating this program.

More information about the program can be found at

Other Funders and Other Orders of Government

Tri Level Funding meetings with Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Edmonton Arts Council, Wood Buffalo Arts Council, Calgary Arts Development, Edmonton Community Foundation, and Calgary Foundation continued through 2018. These are valuable information-sharing meetings, which keep funders informed of national trends, issues, and activities.

Tourism Calgary

Calgary Arts Development continues to work closely with Tourism Calgary, including participation in discussions about Calgary’s Destination Strategy: Ultimate Hosts. Ultimate Host City. The strategy acknowledges the important role arts and culture events play in invigorating us, filling us with wonder, and supporting pride of place, quality of life and well-being.

We applaud and support the strategy’s goal of articulating and emotionalizing Calgary’s unique personality. Calgary Arts Development staff and a number of artists were involved in engagement sessions and conversations about Calgary’s brand and how we might bring it to life.

We add our voice to Tourism Calgary’s to enhance Calgary’s hosting infrastructure and through our grant investment programs we contribute to Tourism Calgary’s goal to energize Calgary’s iconic anchor experiences. We have partnered with Tourism Calgary and the Calgary Hotel Association for the past several years including 2018 to invest in cultural tourism projects through the Remarkable Experience Accelerator program. Some of the iconic anchor experiences specifically mentioned in the Destination Strategy include the High Performance Rodeo, Honens, Beakerhead, Sled Island, and Folk Festival all of whom receive grant investments from Calgary Arts Development.

We share Tourism Calgary’s desire to attract, promote and activate events year-round. We currently invest in more than 170 organizations who, in 2018, presented more than 24,000 events throughout the year.

Tourism Calgary does a great job of fostering stakeholder collaboration and alignment and they have been inclusive of the arts community throughout their strategic planning process. Calgary Arts Development participates on the Brand Committee and on special committees as opportunities arise (such as the JUNOs in the past and the Canadian Country Music Awards in 2019).

Other Partnership and City-Building Activities

In 2018, Calgary Arts Development President & CEO Patti Pon participated in the following:

  • Served as an advisory committee member to the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee, offering insight and networking to arts and culture stakeholders.
  • Participated as a guest panelist on the Leadership in Arts and Culture panel as part of the Leadership Xchange Conference at University of Calgary.
  • Was a consultant and guest panelist for the Making it Right Relations Arts Festival.
  • Was a guest panelist on Grants! Grants! Grants! hosted by Alberta Music.
  • Was a keynote speaker at Famous Five Luncheon.
  • Hosted a table for Tourism Calgary GoMedia Convention dinner.

Calgary Arts Development partnered with the 2018 Inventure$ Conference which focused on discovering and sharing the latest in innovation, research, capital access and experiential learning. It was expected to attract 500 delegates but the final count was over 1,300.

Our partnership was beneficial to the community as we provided artists who opened the conference with an Indigenous blessing and performance, a closing performance by the Calgary Stampede Show Band and over the three days we featured the visual work of artists from Impossible Things and Buds Collective who are both using augmented reality as part of their work.

Calgary Arts Development sponsored artists to participate in First Flip, one of the first public engagement events that kicks  Stampede, with Downtown Calgary, Tourism Calgary, Calgary Economic Development, TELUS Convention Centre and other city builders.

Calgary Arts Development also partnered with Tourism Calgary for the White Hat Awards, helping animate the event through music programming.

Leveraging Resources

In 2018, 92.8% of our total budget came from The City of Calgary with 7.2% generated from other sources.

Remarkable Experience Accelerator brought in an additional $100,000 from the Calgary Hotel Association and Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association, for investment in participating arts organizations and festivals.

The Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions netted just over $22,000 in 2018, which was redistributed to the arts community through grant investment programs. Sponsorships totaling $65,000 in 2018 included Strategic Group, TELUS, TD Bank Group, Aspen Properties, ATB Financial, Brookfield Residential, Calgary Foundation, Calgary Flames Foundation, DIALOG, and University of Calgary.

Cultural Leaders Legacy Artist Awards are a legacy of Calgary 2012 with matching funds from six Calgary benefactors in 2018: ATB Financial, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, Colin Jackson and Arlene Strom, RBC, Sandstone Asset Management, and Doug and Lois Mitchell. The awards distribute cash prizes of $5,000 each to six artists or arts group recipients.

Calgary’s Poet Laureate Program is funded by Poet Laureate Ambassadors, contributing $10,000 over two years to a selected Calgary poet. Ambassadors for this program in 2018 included the Calgary Foundation, Calgary Chamber, and Brookfield Residential. In 2018, Sheri-D Wilson was named the new Poet Laureate, succeeding Micheline Maylor who was Calgary’s Poet Laureate from 2016-2018.

In 2018, SpaceFinder Alberta was supported by $52,500 through a sponsorship from the Alberta Real Estate Board and a grant from Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

In 2018, Calgary Arts Development continued its work in the area of equity, diversity, and inclusion. We participated in a number of training sessions and other initiatives to increase our own knowledge and capacity, as well as a number of discussions, panels, and other events.

Calgary Arts Development supported Walking with our Sisters, a traveling exhibition commemorating missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.

We partnered with The Asian Heritage Foundation to host two public events as part of Asian Heritage Month in 2018. The first—Connecting Asian Canadian Communities with Calgary’s Arts & Creative Sector—was an educational session to discuss and share ideas about cross-cultural collaboration and opportunity-building.

The program included presentations from various speakers working within the arts and creative communities about their initiatives for encouraging diversity and equity into their work followed by interactive sessions on collaborative opportunities available through cultural communities in Calgary.

The second event—Building Bridges Through the Arts: Pan-Asian Canadian Art Experience—included an interactive art market, demonstrations, and cultural performances. Both were open and free to the public.

Jordan Baylon, Calgary Arts Development Community Investment Manager, was the only Canadian invited to join a working group of 12 North American arts funding professionals representing a diversity of organizational perspectives, and most importantly, identities, and lived experiences, all committed to advancing the work of equity, diversity and inclusion in arts granting.

Through generous funding support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, this equity working group met for six days from January through July 2018 to engage in peer-to-peer learning and share experiences, best practices, philosophies and approaches related to tackling inequity within granting processes, culminating in the following outcomes:

  • The publication of Re-Tool: Racial Equity in the Panel Process, the first iteration of a toolkit meant to provide cultural competencies, helpful questions and ideas for equitable practice all in the context of the grantmaking process.
  • A Day of Sharing where all working group members presented white papers on their own “equity intervention stories” to a diverse group of other peer-funders at the Theresa Lang Student Centre in New York. Jordan’s own paper was titled In through Bias: Grant Equity Interventions.
  • A grants equity workshop for funders presented by the working group at the 2018 international Grantmakers in the Arts Conference in Oakland, titled Not the Master’s Tools: Creating a Toolkit for Equity in the Granting Process.

Calgary Arts Development hosted a collaborative Indigenized design process that culminated in the development of what is now the Original Peoples Investment Program, a First Nations/Métis/Inuit-led grant program.

This process was facilitated by Suzanne McLeod and included five design meetings with elders and an Indigenous artist advisory; a Blackfoot pipe ceremony; and two community circles for First Nations/Métis/Inuit artists to provide feedback and guidance for the program’s process and guidelines.

More Information on the Original Peoples Investment Program

Jordan Baylon led or moderated a number of other initiatives including:

  • A panel discussion for LGBTQ2+ identified artists on the subject of queer identity and artistic practice as part of the inaugural WELL: Queer Health and Wellness Conference for Allied Professionals organized by the Calgary Queer Arts Society, Calgary Pride, and Alberta Health Services.
  • A grant-writing workshop with a focus on artist statements and CVs as part of Uprooted, a monthly series hosted by UprootYYC to provide community-space and supports for artists-of-colour.
  • A workshop titled Storytelling: How to Demonstrate the Value of your Non-profit hosted by the 2018 Board Leadership Calgary conference, with a specific focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion tools such as group agreements and the descriptive consultancy technique.
  • A descriptive consultancy and group agreements clinic for Sled Island Music Festival, Third Action Film Festival, and Westjet representatives.
  • A privilege bag team-building exercise co-facilitated with JD Derbyshire for the Calgary Arts Development staff and board retreat, designed to develop awareness of equity, diversity, and inclusion concepts such as privilege and intersectionality.

Calgary Arts Development continued to deliver a land acknowledgment at all events as well as including the land acknowledgment and personal pronouns on business cards.

In 2018, Calgary Arts Development staff presented on their work around arts and education at the international Arts in Society conference in Vancouver and at the Americans for the Arts Convention in Denver.

Through a unique collaboration between granting agencies, academics, educators and arts organizations, the Socially Empowered 3E Scale (Martin & Calvert, 2017) was developed. The Socially Empowered 3E Scale includes three subscales drawn from the broader Socially Empowered Learning Framework (Martin & Calvert, 2018) that measure changes in intellectual engagement, ethical mindset, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Calgary Arts Development presented the results from a pilot program of the scale with three arts education providers and discussed the results, challenges and implications for the scale’s more widespread adoption amongst arts educators.

Calgary Arts Development updated its recruitment process when searching for a replacement for the Director, Community Investment & Impact. When it was noted that there were no people from equity-seeking communities on the short list for the job, we undertook a pause in the process in order to reflect, consult with community leaders, and initiate a completely different kind of recruitment, interview, and selection process.

v.ila the Poet in front of a graphic that says, "Live Love Life"
v.ila the Poet performs spoken word the launch of Debut | Photo: Wilmer Aburto, courtesy of Studio C

Knowledge and Research

Calgary Arts Development draws on different kinds of research, gathering information and knowledge to fulfill our vision and mission. We gather and share information to strengthen the arts sector and build a great city. Our four main areas of work are:

Program Evaluation:

  • Data collection on individual programs.
  • Assessment of how well each program is achieving its goals.
  • Determination of what is working and what is not working at a tactical level.
  • Customization of programs or course correction.

Indicator Tracking:

  • Collected and reported annually.
  • Used to monitor performance against strategic plan and determine what we are doing and how much/well we are doing it.
  • Collected through Calgary Arts Development processes and systems such as the grant interface, Google analytics, social media monitoring, grant applications, etc.

Impact Measurement:

  • How the arts build a great city: data collected and reported annually through the Arts in Action website and collateral demonstrate how the arts contribute to Making Connections, Shaping our Identity, Boosting the Economy, and Inspiring Youth.
  • Demonstrates the value of the arts sector to our shareholder and the public.
  • Demonstrates the intrinsic and instrumental benefits of arts investment in Calgary.


  • In-house research such as grant applications and grantee final reports completed on a project by project basis.
  • Primary and secondary research used to learn more about current trends relevant to the arts sector—data that is useful to artists and arts organizations.

Calgary Engagement Survey Report

Key to achieving our mission of supporting and strengthening the arts to benefit all Calgarians is an understanding of how the community perceives and engages with the arts.

In 2018, Calgary Arts Development conducted a Calgary engagement survey—an update to Calgarian engagement surveys that had been done in 2014 and 2016. It reported Calgarians’ overall engagement with the arts; type of engagement—either in observation, attendance or creation; perceptions, motivations, and interactions with arts and culture activities/organizations; and citizen perceptions of the benefits of the arts and culture sector to the city, their community or themselves. The 2018 report found that 93% of Calgarians are engaged with the arts (up from 92% in 2016).

More Information on the Calgary Engagement Survey

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Arts Report

In 2018, Calgary Arts Development released one of the first Arts Demographic Census surveys in the country. The survey focused on three specific areas of equity and diversity:

  • Processes: Equity and diversity policies in place at Calgary arts organizations.
  • Programming: The number of activities for and with diverse participants undertaken by Calgary arts organizations.
  • People: The demographics of the arts sector, including artists, administrators and volunteers.

The report serves as a call to action for the sector to move to a state of greater equity for under-represented groups through inclusive practices.

More Information on the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Arts

Arts Professionals Survey Report

In 2018, Calgary Arts Development released an arts professionals survey to learn how art is made in Calgary and what the lifestyle patterns and living conditions are for those working in the arts.

The survey asked 58 questions related to individuals’ careers, finances, health and wellbeing, housing, spaces, and resources for artistic practice, perceptions, and participation in community, as well as basic demographics. Key findings indicate that arts professionals are struggling financially with over half of the individuals reporting their gross individual income to be less than $35,000 per year (53%), much lower than the average income in Calgary of $67,741. Two-thirds (66%) of arts professionals report living in homes with a total household income under $90,000, which is below the Calgary median of $99,3882. And well over half of all arts professionals (59%) are exceeding the CMHC recommended maximum spending of 30% of household income on housing costs.

Despite this fact, arts professionals are happy with their lives and most are generally happy living in Calgary.

More Information on the Arts Professionals Survey

Economic Impact of the Arts Report

In 2018, Calgary Arts Development hired KPMG to conduct an economic impact study of the 156 not-for-profit arts organizations that received support through our grant investment programs in 2017. The study confirmed that those organizations contributed $134M in value added GDP activity for Canada, with the large majority ($107M) occurring in Alberta; created 1,550 full-time equivalent jobs; and generated $16.6M in revenues that contributed to the federal, provincial and municipal governments.

More Information on the Economic Impact of the Arts

Data for Good

In 2018 Calgary Arts Development partnered with Data for Good to host an arts datathon. Over the course of the weekend, over 100 individuals from Data for Good with technical expertise and an interest in data analytics, along with volunteers from the arts community, examined data sets from the arts community as well as public data sets to explore big questions around the arts and community.

Volunteers presented new ways of presenting information and thinking about data that will be helpful for program evaluation in 2019.

Culture Track

The City of Calgary participated in a national Culture Track survey with an oversample of the Calgary population. Culture Track monitors attitudes and perceptions, attractions and barriers to participation by culturally active consumers.
Respondents listed “having fun” as the greatest motivator for attending arts and culture events. “Relaxing and feeling less stressed” is also a motivator. The study also states that “social” and “lively” are the top two characteristics of an ideal cultural activity and lists festivals as popular and highly attended events.

Arts Activities Ward Map

Each year Calgary Arts Development creates a ward map to show how much arts activity is provided by organizations that receive funding from Calgary Arts Development in each ward of our city. This map does not show all arts activities in each ward, only those by organizations receiving support from our grant investment programs.

A map showing the 2018 ward activity by arts organizations receiving funding from Calgary Arts Development


Calgary Arts Development is governed by a board of directors, appointed by and directly accountable to its shareholder, The City of Calgary, via City Council. The board of directors governs lawfully, observing the principles of the policy governance model, with an emphasis on strategic leadership and clear distinction of board and CEO roles.

The board also identifies the principal risks of Calgary Arts Development’s business, achieves a proper balance between risks incurred and potential returns, and oversees the development of policies and the implementation of appropriate systems to manage the risks. In 2018, two new board members joined for a total of 10 board members; there were five regular board meetings and a two-day retreat scheduled, with an attendance record of 78%.

Board of Directors Committees

The Calgary Arts Development board of dDirectors carries out its responsibilities using the following committee structures.

Finance and Audit

The purpose of the finance and audit committee is to assist the board in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities by reviewing and making recommendations to the board regarding:

  • Financial information, including audited financial statements, that will be provided to the board of directors and other stakeholders.
  • The systems of internal controls.
  • Internal audit processes.
  • Investment management activities.
Governance and Human Resources

The governance and human resources committee (GHRC) has three areas of responsibility:

  • Governance matters, including management of the relationships between the board and the CEO and between Calgary Arts Development and the shareholder, all as defined in the policy manual.
  • Human resources policy development and oversight, including review of CEO hiring, performance evaluation, compensation, development, and termination.
  • Board recruitment, development, and evaluation.
Strategy and Public Policy

The strategy and public policy committee’s mandate includes:

  • Considering and making recommendations to the board of directors on matters affecting strategy and public policy within Calgary Arts Development’s mandate.
  • Providing guidance and evaluation to the board of directors for the development and evaluation of Calgary Arts Development’s alignment with our mission and vision, and facilitates strategic planning process in coordination with the board.

Key Policies and Processes

Board of Directors Policy on Conflict of Interest

A comprehensive policy exists for members of Calgary Arts Development’s board of directors that sets the parameters around potential conflicts of interest. Calgary Arts Development aims to recruit board members whose professional reputations and work in the community will enhance Calgary Arts Development’s impact. These individuals have a strong commitment to building the arts in Calgary, to making the arts central to the municipal decision-making process and to building relationships with other agencies from the public and private sectors.

Members of the board are conscious of the conflicts of interest that may arise in the normal course of business or as a result of board members being connected to an organization that may receive direct or indirect benefits from the activities of Calgary Arts Development. Each board member shall disclose in writing all known real and potential conflicts upon appointment to the board and on an annual basis and otherwise in accordance with this policy.

Granting and Resource Allocation Recommendation Processes

Program guidelines specifying objectives, decision-making processes and assessment criteria are designed for each arts investment program (including granting programs and recommendations to City Council on infrastructure investments). Along with program guidelines, Terms of Reference provide direction to arm’s-length volunteer assessors who make recommendations to Calgary Arts Development.

The set of Theatre Calgary's production of Twelfth Night
The cast of Twelfth Night | Photo: Trudie Lee Photography, courtesy of Theatre Calgary



Jordan Baylon, Community Investment Manager
Gregory Burbidge, Research & Policy Specialist
Amy Jo Espetveidt, Content Manager
Alisha Gordon, Special Program Coordinator (May-August, October-December 2018)
Nick Heazell, Database and Website Coordinator
Lesley Hinger, Office Manager & Executive Assistant
Emiko Muraki, Director, Community Investment and Impact (to September 2018)
Helen Moore-Parkhouse, Director, Communications and Engagement
Taylor Poitras, Community Investment Assistant
Patti Pon, President & CEO
John Richardson, Research & Policy Coordinator (as of May 2018)
Sable Sweetgrass, Community Investment Officer (as of November 2018)
Melissa Tuplin, Community Investment Officer

On Contract

Kaley Beisiegel, Engagement Consultant
Joni Carroll, Arts Spaces Consultant
Amanda Germain, CA, Controller
Cherie McMaster, Events Consultant
Kari Watson, Spaces Database Coordinator

Board of Directors

Jeff de Boer, Artist (as of August 2018)
Cheryl Foggo, Writer/Playwright (to June 2018)
Donna Friesen, Community Leader
Rob Harding, CPA/CMA Athabasca Oil
Barb Howard, Author (as of August 2018)
Tim Mah, CA (Treasurer), Community Leader
Stacy Petriuk, Partner, JSS Barristers
Dean Prodan (Chair), CFO Director, Whitehorn Resources
Susan Veres, Partner, Honeycomb Solutions
Katherine Wagner, Associate (Architecture), DIALOG
Evan Woolley, Councillor, Ward 8, The City of Calgary

JD Derbyshire in Certified
JD Derbyshire in Certified | Photo: Benjamin Laird Arts & Photo, courtesy of Handsome Alice Theatre

Committees, Assessors and Volunteers

Thank you to the many people who have given their time and expertise to our programs. We could not succeed without them.

Board Committees

Wil Knoll, Strategy and Public Policy Committee
Kelli Morning Bull, Strategy and Public Policy Committee
Caitlyn Ducasse, Finance and Audit Committee

Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions

Strategic Group employees

Cultural Leaders Legacy Artist Awards Juries

Stephanie Achison
Peter Balkwill
Stephanie Bankzy
derek beaulieu
Matt Blais
Kerry Clarke
Xstine Cook
Teresa Coulter
Chris Cran
Col Cseke
Jerilynn Daniels
Kris Demeanor
Daniel Doz
Mark Hopkins
Sandra Huculak
Kodi Hutchinson
Colin Jackson
Salimah Kassam
Amanda Koyama
Simon Mallett
Deanne Matley
Micheline Maylor
Nicole Mion
Brent Pickerl
Joanne Reynolds
Cecilia Schlemm
Aaron Siderenko
Justine Vandergrift
Mark Vazquez MacKay
Mark Wold

Grant Program Assessors

Ami Kenzo
Anna Ko
Anne Green
Areum Kim
Ari Agha
Ashley Meller
Blaire Russell
Chantal Chagnon
Charles Netto
Craig Fahner
Crystal Manyfingers
Djaka Blais-Amare
Jamie Leong-Huxley
Javier Vilalta
Jeff Hessel
Jenna Turk
Jiajia Li
Josh Dalledonne
Jung Suk Ryu
Justin Manyfingers
Karen O’Connor
Kate Newby
Kevin Allen
Kevin Cork
Laura Reid
Leah Nicholson
Leo Cripps
Les Siemieniuk
Lisa Murphy-Lamb
Lyle Adam Fox
Malcolm Edwards
Mathew Stone
Maud Salvi
Melanee Murray-Hunt
Melanie Hudson
Nicole Westman
Paul Welch
Sheeba Vijayan
Su Lin Tseng
Su Ying Strang
Vicki Chau
Wunmi Idowu
Young-Mi Kwon
Yukichi Hattori
Zoe Harrison

2018 OPIP Advisory Committee Members

Blaire Russell
Chris Aquart
Cowboy Smithx
Dakota Eaglewoman
Edmee Comstock
Justin Many Fingers
Lance Scout
Melanie Parsons
Sable Sweetgrass
Sophia Lebessis

2018 Program Partners

Calgary Poet Laureate

Logos for the Calgary Poet Laureate program parnters

Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions

Logos for the Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions program partners

Remarkable Experience Accelerator

2016 Program Partners Remarkable Experience Accelerator

SpaceFinder Alberta

2016 Program Partners SpaceFinder Alberta

Manhole cover relief printing
Manhole cover relief printing in Prince’s Island Park with The City of Calgary | Photo: Kate Baillies, courtesy of Alberta Printmakers

SpaceFinder Alberta is made possible by:


Suite #501, 237 8th Ave. SE Calgary, AB T2G 5C3


The City of Calgary brand
Calgary Arts Development is The City of Calgary’s arm’s-length arts development authority.


Download the Report

Calgary Arts Development Financial Statements for 2018