Funding for Arts Commons expansion approved by city council

After a decade-long conversation, city council approved $22.5 million in funding for detailed design work on a major expansion of Arts Commons.

Mayor Nenshi says it's a big day for that project to finally move forward

The city says the Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) project will both 'expand capacity in an adjoining new building and renew the existing facility to bring it up to today’s standards.' (

After a decade-long conversation, city council has approved $22.5 million in funding for work on a major expansion of Arts Commons.

The goal of the project is to transform and expand Arts Commons, and the first phase would see three new theatres built.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the move Monday clears the way for lobbying other governments to join with the city in funding the expansion.

"It was supposed to be done in 2010 in time for the 25th anniversary of the facility. In 2019, maybe we can get it started now," said the mayor.

Council approved 22.5 million dollars for detailed designs and other work on Arts Commons. (David Bell/CBC)

The overall expansion of the performing arts facility is priced at $240 million. Other funding sources are still being sought.

Arts Commons, formerly the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts, is a large downtown complex immediately south of Olympic Plaza. It includes the Jack Singer Concert Hall, Max Bell Theatre and several smaller venues.

It's home to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Theatre Calgary, Alberta Theatre Projects and One Yellow Rabbit.

An artist's rendering of the proposed exterior of the Arts Commons complex next to Olympic Plaza. (City of Calgary)

Arts Commons is one of four major projects that city council has recently approved, including the BMO Centre expansion and the new arena in Victoria Park.

"This project actually has had far, far more work done for many years than any of the other three projects, in fact all of them combined," Nenshi said. "Frankly, they've been at it for so long it's ready to go."

With files from Dave Bell and Scott Dippel


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