Living Locally   /   Arts & Culture   /   Community   /   Money

Calgary Arts Development is a catalyst for the sector

Creating a thriving arts scene in Calgary

March 24, 2017 by Centaine Hlushak on Calgary Arts Development

As a wholly owned subsidiary of the City of Calgary, Calgary Arts Development supports and strengthens the arts to benefit all Calgarians.

The agency invests in over 150 non-profit arts organizations in Calgary. Last year alone, funds totalled $5.1 million. In Alberta, a $1 million investment creates 22 full-time jobs in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, resulting in $114,354 million in direct economic output according to impact statistics from Calgary Arts Development.

“We believe that the arts are important to build a city, and there’s an intrinsic value to them,” says Helen Moore-Parkhouse, Director of Communications and Engagement. “Art shapes identity, develops youth, makes connections and boosts the economy. They also tell our stories, bring joy, and allow self-expression.”

According to the impact statistics, many of the Calgary-based activities in the arts in 2015 involved members of diverse groups, with the largest concentration in multicultural communities (35%) and disabled communities (29%).

The biggest investment grant program is for Operating Grants. “We’re not accepting new clients every single year; although, we try to innovate and have some smaller new programs for projects and experiments. The grantee base is fairly stable,” says Helen. “One of the most competitive grants is for professional development of individual artists – the Artist Opportunity Grant – offered on a quarterly basis.”

The agency also facilitates art development programs. One of Helen’s favourites is the Remarkable Experience Accelerator program. Offered in partnership with the Calgary Hotel Association, this program targets cultural tourism. Beakerhead and Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF) are among the alumni from this program.

“Those are great success stories in that they’re not only providing great opportunities for Calgarians to come together and experience these great arts events, but they also draw people in from afar.”

One of Calgary Arts Development’s missions is fostering resiliency in the sector. A downturned economy can mean a very trying time for people in the arts. For the past three years alongside EmcArts, Calgary Arts Development has offered New Pathways for the Arts – focussing on “adaptive capacity and being resilient in complex times,” Helen explains.

“We try to help the sector find ways to connect with each other around resiliency and adaptability.”

Helen says 2017 will be a “year of activation” for Calgary Arts Development. “We are continuing to develop relationships in the community. We believe that the arts and creativity are alive and well, and we need to broaden our own circles.”


  1. Click here to learn more about Calgary Arts Development’s programs
  2. Watch what’s happening in Calgary arts by checking out the events page.
  3. Follow Calgary Arts Development on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  4. Check out Calgary Arts Development’s Sustainability Profile.