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‘The time is right’: Calgary Film Centre going up for sale

Inside the Calgary Film Centre, , located at 5750 76 Avenue S.E.
Inside the Calgary Film Centre, , located at 5750 76 Avenue S.E. Global News / Bindu Suri

The City of Calgary is getting out of the film and television production business.

Friday, the city announced preparations have begun to sell the Calgary Film Centre, a purpose-built production facility with three sound stages, workshop and warehouse spaces.

The city-owned centre opened in May 2016 and is managed by a subsidiary of Calgary Economic Development (CED).

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“The industry is flourishing and there is increased demand and competition for studio space, so the time is right to explore a sale,” Patricia McLeod, board chair of the Calgary Film Centre, said in a statement.

“Calgary Economic Development and the city were never intended to run the Film Centre over the long term, and it will develop further when owned by a private-sector player.”

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The move comes at a time when film and television productions in the province is booming, in part due to a restructured provincial tax credit. The centre’s sound stages have been booked solid through much of the pandemic, with bookings continuing through 2022.

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“Calgary is experiencing exponential growth in the film sector here, and now is exactly the right time for government to get out of the way and let the private sector really take it to the next level,” Ward 6 councillor and film centre board member Jeff Davison told Global News.

The city took over the facility two years ago and used it as a lever to improve the local industry, Davison said. Attention to the region from productions like Fargo and The Last of Us should help with the sale of the film centre.

“When it comes to the sale of the film centre, there will be a lot of different operators that work in and around film and television production, as well as the studios themselves, that will likely have a high degree of interest in Calgary in particular and in this type of facility,” Davison said.

In 2019, the film and TV sector added $197 million to the city’s economy. Under COVID-19 restrictions, the industry added $90 million and 2,474 jobs in 2020.

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And with more productions planned, Alberta film commissioner and VP of creative industries at CED Luke Azevedo said the industry is on a trajectory to grow.

“The potential of film and television as a major contributor to creative industries in a diverse economy is starting to be realized.

“In addition to the quality of our talent, crews and outstanding venues and facilities, the right level of government support is serving as a critical catalyst to the significant growth,” Azevedo said in a statement.

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