It was to be a bold, and very expensive, vision — spreading the Banff Centre from its perch overlooking the town by creating a new downtown venue, and expanding the current campus. 

It aimed to bring art to greater numbers of people, according to proponents, and it would cost almost $1 billion.

Those audacious expansion plans, crafted by former Banff Centre president and CEO Jeff Melanson, have now been put on hold indefinitely.

"I'd call it not so much a cancellation, as a revision of the plans," said Janice Price, the new head of the centre.

"That was a big vision, it was wonderful that the previous administration and the board went through an exercise to see what might be possible in the future for the Banff Centre, but frankly we've really now just modified that plan to begin first, and to focus most primarily, on the buildings that we already have on this really extraordinary campus, many of which are very old."

The reasons for the change are financial as well as philosophical, according to Price, citing the downturn in the economy and a desire to focus on the centre's existing assets while strengthening its global reputation.

Connections

Price says it's "absolutely a priority" to connect the centre with the town. 

"There's lots of ways that are not about being physically being geographically located in the town, which is literally a seven-minute walk from Banff Avenue up to the Banff Centre," she said.

"I think it's really incumbent on us to do more outreach, really create paths and ways for the community to feel much more directly connected with the facilities here up on the campus."

No money has been raised at this point for either vision.