As renovations continue at the old King Edward School in South Calgary, which is being converted into an "incubator" space for professional artists to work and collaborate, dozens of tenants have now signed on to be part of the project.

Dubbed cSPACE, the conversion of the century-old sandstone school has been in the works for years, and is now approaching completion.

President and CEO Reid Henry describes the undertaking as a "social enterprise" designed to "address a longstanding need of space for the arts, culture and creative sector."

"This is a living, breathing, professional workspace for the arts, and I think that's missing in this city," he said.

Henry expects hundreds of artists will work out of the 47,500-square-foot facility, once it's up and running.

Among them will be Troy Emery Twigg, artistic director for Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, which is one of 29 tenants signed on for the space, so far.

Troy Emery Twigg

Troy Emery Twigg, artistic director for Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society, says the space will give his theatrical group a place to work and collaborate with other artists. (CBC)

"We're really excited to be here, mostly because of the community that it's building, the collaboration that it fosters and encourages," Twigg said.

"Everything is accessible under one roof for us."

The project involves turning the school into a multi-disciplinary arts space, funded in large part through the sale of former playground land for residential development.

Calgary city council agreed in 2011 to direct $5 million in provincial funding from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) toward the project.

King Edward School cspace windows

The school's old windows have been maintained as the building is renovated. (CBC)

The project is also being supported by The Calgary Foundation and Calgary Arts Development.

The sandstone school opened in November 1913 but shut its doors as a public school in 2000 as inner-city student enrolment declined.

The tenants, so far, include:

  • The Alberta Craft Council
  • The Alberta Magazine Publishers Association 
  • The Alexandra Writers' Centre Society 
  • The Alliance Française of Calgary
  • The Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners 
  • Forte Musical Theatre Guild  
  • Maria Montessori Education Centre  
  • Theatre Encounter  
  • Studio C Collaborative Art Centre  
  • The Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society  
  • The Rozsa Foundation  
  • Quest Theatre
  • RANDM Collective - illustration and design collective 
  • Natalie Gerber - Boutique Textile Printing & Home Décor
  • Anneke Forbes  – emerging outerwear designer 
  • Arkatyiis Miller – emerging visual artist and ACAD grad
  • Doug Driediger - established mid-career artist, blending fine art and commercial art disciplines
  • Diane + Mike Photography & The Witt Photography
  • Brian Batista – artist and educator
  • Shona Rae - sculptor, jewelry and mixed media artist 
  • Paula Timm - visual artist, instructor and writer 
  • Ramin Eshraghi-Yazdi – established, mid-career filmmaker, writer and producer
  • Cecile Albi - fine art landscape painter working in acrylic and mixed medium
  • Collaborative Textile Studio space - by Kristi Woo, Aileen Beninger and Anne Kirsten Designs
Chalkboards at King Edward Schol

Chalkboards that are 100 years old are staying in place as a reminder of the past at the converted King Edward School. (CBC)

With files from Justin Pennell