Support for the Arts

Our position Support for the Arts


Arts and culture inspires a variety of ways to communicate with one another and promotes an environment of understanding through cultural exchange. It is a vital component of a thriving city that’s a desirable place to live and visit. As Calgary fights its way out of Covid-19, and the focus turns to post-covid recovery, we must invest in this sector that’s been hit hardest by the pandemic.

Investment in the arts and culture sector leads to economic growth, diversity in the economy, and a revitalized downtown. It also leads to intercultural exchange and a sense of belonging for Calgarians.

Calgary is home to a diverse range of internationally renowned artists, events, and organizations, but our arts sector needs support to better reflect the cultural diversity of the city. We need to continue to attract new investment and talent while retaining and advocating for the culturally diverse artists who already live here.


Investment in the arts needs to be part of the city’s Covid-19 economic recovery and our larger vision for the future of the city.

  • The arts and culture sectors have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and require immediate action as part of our COVID economic recovery. We need creative solutions for programming in accordance with AHS public health guidelines.

  • Investment in the arts and culture scene leads to economic growth and diversity in the economy. These industries generate $107M annually in value-added GDP to Alberta, and promote Calgary as a destination for tourists and touring artists. (CADA - 2019 – 2022 Strategic Direction)

  • Operations grants allow arts venues and cultural events to continuously draw people to support small businesses in downtown Calgary, strengthening our communities.

  • 79% of Calgarians believe that a strong arts and culture scene is key to creating a vibrant, safe and prosperous city. (Calgary Arts Development Engagement Survey, 2016)

  • 80% of Calgarians believe that support for arts and culture including festivals is somewhat or very important. (Quality of Life and Citizen Satisfaction Survey, Fall 2020)

  • Alberta receives proportionally less funding for the arts compared to other provinces. Continuing to grow our arts sectors could attract new investment, and generate even larger returns for our city.

  • The City should develop a strategy to strengthen philanthropic and sponsorship support for cultural development in Calgary, including local businesses in neighbourhoods, developers and foundations.


80% of Calgarians agree that support for the arts, including festivals, is important.



We need to foster the growth of emerging artists while cutting the red-tape preventing artists and organizations from using existing infrastructure.

  • Work with existing arts organizations to increase opportunities for youth engagement in both school curriculum and extracurricular activities.

  • Increase the amount and availability of affordable studio space, tools, information resources, mentorship opportunities, and all-ages venues.

  • Create more artist funding grants through Calgary Arts Development, while supporting professional development programs to help artists and organizations access federal funding.

  • There are numerous ways to reduce the barriers for holding and participating in cultural activities and events in Calgary:

    • Reduce barriers to creative use of public and green spaces.

    • Utilize existing underused infrastructure such as community association buildings, libraries and schools, creating all-ages events accessible for all Calgarians.

    • Provide low cost cultural programs to meet the diverse interests and needs of all people in the city.

    • Facilitate the matching of artist studio needs to under-utilized commercial/ industrial space.

    • Allow more flexibility for arts organizations seeking liquor licenses.


Calgary must show meaningful commitment to the principles of truth and reconciliation through funding and highlighting Indigenous art

The City must:

  • Partner with Indigenous-led organizations to contextualize Calgary’s history with colonialism.
  • Seek to visibly highlight local Indigenous artists through measures such as public art showcases.

  • Foster meaningful dialogue and exchange between the City and Indigenous communities regarding their cultural aspirations.

  • Celebrate the distinct diversity of Indigenous cultures as the foundation of Calgary’s culture and identity.

  • Strengthen relationships with established cultural organizations to support more Indigenous programs and activities, while continuing to fund and grow Indigenous artists through grants like the Original People’s Investment Program (OPIP).

  • Partner with Calgary libraries and other organizations to establish programs that support individuals from Indigenous communities in recording the stories and history that communicate their culture and identity for future generations.


Racialized and Indigenous peoples are nearly 2 times more likely to say they did not participate in cultural activities



Arts and culture needs to better reflect Calgary’s strengths as a culturally diverse city

  • The 2018 Culture Track study discovered that Indigenous peoples and people of colour are nearly 2 times more likely to say they did not participate in cultural activities in the past year because the activities didn’t “reflect people of all backgrounds.”
  • Increasing the inclusivity, equitability, and accessibility of the arts in Calgary will facilitate opportunities for intercultural exchange and a sense of belonging for all Calgarians.

  • Racialized, Indigenous, LGBTQIA2S+, and disability communities need to be visible, celebrated, and supported in Calgary’s arts scene. We must work to amplify and protect these voices that have been historically underrepresented in our city.
  • The City needs to co-create and implement a third-party, grassroots-led organization with diverse representation that can implement equity requirements for city funded arts organizations to ensure equity deserving groups are represented.

  • The City needs to amend historical inequities in funding by providing grants for racialized, Indigenous, LGBTQIA2S+, and disabled Calgarians.
  • All public spaces in the city, including those used for arts and culture activities, need to be inclusive and welcoming to all.



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