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Southern Alberta arts and culture organizations get $111 M from feds

The entrance to Arts Commons, one of the 36 southern Alberta arts organizations and festivals receiving funding from the federal government, as announced on Aug. 29, 2019.
The entrance to Arts Commons, one of the 36 southern Alberta arts organizations and festivals receiving funding from the federal government, as announced on Aug. 29, 2019. Global News

Arts organizations in southern Alberta received a funding boost from the federal government ahead of the Labour Day weekend.

Thirty-six different organizations will receive $1.45 million to support local festivals and community celebrations.

And two Calgary arts building projects will receive $110 million.

“Arts are how we share our stories and connect with each other,” MP Kent Hehr told Global News.

READ MORE: Calgary theatre’s final curtain call looming due to change in provincial funding

“This investment will ensure that festivals and organizations like Arts Commons can build capacity and present valuable cultural experiences for those in Calgary and those that visit here.”

Arts Commons is just one of the three dozen organizations receiving funding from the $14-million Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage program and the $16-million Canada Arts Presentation Fund.

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Greg Epton, chief development officer and interim co-CEO of Arts Commons, said the funds will help keep ticket prices at the performing arts centre accessible to Calgarians.

“Our goal here at Arts Commons — and most arts organizations — is that our ticket costs are kept as low as possible so that we’re as accessible as possible,” Epton said. “We do that by inviting corporations to make corporate sponsorships, but we also need the partnership from government.”

READ MORE: Calgary council approves funding strategy for new hockey arena, fieldhouse

Several music festivals like the Calgary Folk Music Festival, Sled Island and ReggaeFest will receive funding, along with other festivals like Wordfest, Beakerhead, Calgary Pride and Taber Cornfest. The Banff Centre and One Yellow Rabbit Theatre Association are among the recipients receiving the largest grants in Thursday’s announcement.

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Ken Goosen, producer of the Calgary Fireworks Festival Society that hosts GlobalFest, said the cultural funding program has been “instrumental in allowing our festival to continue to advance and celebrate the rich multicultural diversity that is found in Calgary.”

Epton said the arts allows for those diverse groups to come together and share their cultures.

“We are a part of that fabric of community building.”

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Arts Commons, Planetarium renos getting $110 million

Friday, the federal government committed to its part in funding the Arts Commons Transformation Project and the Contemporary Calgary-led renovations of the Centennial Planetarium.

The Arts Commons project will receive $80 million in federal funding and the Planetarium project will receive $30 million, pending funding from the province and city.

The Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) is a two-part project, the first of which includes the building of a new performance centre in the northwest corner of Olympic Plaza pegged at $240 million. The second part would see revitalization of the existing Arts Commons building, that includes the Jack Singer Concert Hall.

The City of Calgary has already committed $25 million via the Municipality Sustainability Initiative for ACT. The city and the province of Alberta have yet to agree on the remaining $135 million for ACT, but the city has identified the Arts Commons project and the BMO Centre as projects that will receive Community Revitalization Levy funding.

READ MORE: Historic Calgary planetarium gets new life as art gallery

Contemporary Calgary is the group behind the planetarium’s three-part, $117-million renovation project that includes turning the former Creative Kids Museum into a gallery, transforming the planetarium into a gallery with cafe-style restaurant, and a “class A” gallery addition required for touring exhibitions with rooftop sculpture garden.

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The city has already committed $25 million towards the renovations, with Contemporary Calgary looking for a further $30 million from the Government of Alberta and $32 million from private investors.

“The federal government today has identified that Arts Commons and Contemporary Calgary are priorities for them,” Ward 7 Councillor Druh Farrell told Global News Friday. “We need to work with the province through their funding process (for these projects) and we will respect their process.”

“With a lot of our funding we don’t need three orders of government to match funding,” Farrell said. “With arts funding, we tend to require matching funding, and so it’s always more difficult to get three orders of government on the same page.”

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