On Monday, Sept. 30, City Council approved $22.5 million in funding to expand the Arts Commons, a multi-venue arts centre located in downtown Calgary’s Olympic Plaza Cultural District. The funding will go to build three new theatres.
News of the funding approval came after a 12-year long deliberation by City Council. In 2007, City Council identified the Arts Commons expansion as a priority and set aside seed funding for the project in 2011. On Monday, City Council voted to release the previously assigned funds to move to the design phase of the expansion.
Some, such as Calgary’s Ward 4 Councillor Sean Chu, voted against the motion and expressed concerns regarding funding allocation to Arts Commons.
“Right now, I think, is not the right time,” Chu stated in a phone interview, emphasizing the need to allocate city funding to those facing economic hardship. “If you’re out of a job, you’re not going to go out there and buy a nice painting for ten, twenty thousand dollars. You’d never do that. You’d want to put food on the table for your children.”
Others defended the decision.
“This project actually has had far, far more work done for many years than any of the other three projects, in fact all of them combined,” Nenshi said to the press after the City Council meeting on Monday. “Frankly, they’ve been at it for so long it’s ready to go. It’s time to move forward.”
The overall expansion of the performing arts facility is priced at $240 million. Other funding sources are still being sought, and the completion date is yet to be determined.