Arts Commons Transformation: What Calgarians really want from their arts centre

    · 3 min read

    CMLC recently led a multi-channel public engagement campaign to learn the aspirations of what Calgarians are looking for in their new arts centre. The results are in and we’re thrilled with the way Calgarians got involved and shared their ideas with us!

    The Arts Commons Transformation (ACT) is a collaborative project by Arts Commons, CMLC and The City of Calgary to expand and modernize our city’s premier arts and culture centre. As ACT development manager, CMLC led the ACT engagement program—its two key components being a series of virtual roundtables and an online survey.

    In March, we hosted several in-depth stakeholder roundtables, connecting with different arts and community groups including event promoters, community activists, directors, performers and set designers, to name a few. The online survey was open to the public between April 16 and May 31 and garnered almost 2,000 responses.

    What these engagements showed is that Calgarians are genuinely interested in seeing a revamped Arts Commons. The following themes emerged in the feedback from both the roundtables and the survey.

    Building comforts and access:
    Calgarians feel strongly that the new spaces should address patrons’ needs around parking, washrooms and physical access to and within the building. Some of the more popular topics were more comfortable seats, better navigation through the facilities and improved patron, performer and service accessibility.

    Amenities that enhance the experience:
    Calgarians want an arts ‘destination’—a welcoming and impressive building they’re proud of that delivers a complete experience that’s pleasant, entertaining and enriching. Popular ideas for new amenities include a local restaurant outlet, an ‘art bar’ and a craft brewery. Survey respondents overwhelmingly want more food and beverage opportunities in Arts Commons and the surrounding neighbourhood with hours that better align with performances.

    Indoor/outdoor spaces that flow together:
    Many people see the surrounding public realm as underutilized; they want the outdoor areas to be places they can comfortably walk through or spend time in. There is high interest in integrating Arts Commons through programming, outdoor screenings and enabling a more natural ‘flow’ between indoor and outdoor spaces.

    By and large, people want the arts to offer variety, diversity and enrichment. They believe it’s important that Arts Commons remains committed to offering programming that appeals to Calgarians and reflects and respects the evolving social landscape.

    It was wonderful to see so many people invested in Arts Commons and enthusiastic about making it even better. CMLC, The City and Arts Commons will be considering all the feedback received through this engagement and taking to heart the ideas people shared with us. This transformation, when it’s done, will be truly spectacular...and, we hope, will be a worthy reflection of Calgarians’ aspirations for their beloved arts community.

    To read the full report click here >>

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