Photo courtesy of Calgary Economic Development


As an economic engine for our country, Calgary’s success increasingly hinges on creative thinking and innovation, skills honed by arts participation. Also, a healthy arts sector typically punches above its weight economically and helps attract top talent to our city.

The arts and shared prosperity

The economic downturn of 2015 has had an enormous effect on our city. Massive layoffs. Increased vacancy in buildings. Nervousness about the future. What role can the arts play in this new reality? What can artists contribute to the conversation? How can the arts sector best serve our city and citizens in these complex times?


full-time jobs in the arts, recreation and entertainment sector

This is greater than many other industries, including retail trade; accommodation and food services; professional, scientific and technical; administrative and support services; wholesale trade; crop and animal production; and oil and gas extraction.

Research Note: The Economic Impact of Arts Organizations Supported by Calgary Arts Development, Calgary Arts Development, June 2014.

Remarkable arts experiences draw tourists to our city

The Remarkable Experience Accelerator (REA) is a partnership between the Calgary Hotel Association (CHA) and Calgary Arts Development. It is intended to provide multi-year investment for applicants to enhance and/or build on an existing initiative or program that not only delights locals, but also attracts visitors to our city. It is not intended to fund single-time programs, projects or events. The goal of the REA is to enhance the story of Calgary as a cultural hotbed and give people even more reasons to visit Calgary as leisure travellers.

Photo: Arnell Tailfeathers, courtesy of Making Treaty 7

IN 2015:

Calgarians work in an artist occupation, comprising 0.7% of our city’s overall labour force*
million in direct economic output, including artistic expenses, facility costs, administration and more, via Calgary’s investment in its arts sector
full-time equivalent staff hired by Calgary arts organizations
artists hired by Calgary arts organizations

Based on data from organizations funded in part through Calgary Arts Development.

*Artists and Cultural Workers in Canadian Municipalities, Hill Strategies, December 2014 (based on 2011 National Household Survey).

Photo: Bobbi Barbarich, courtesy of Sled Island



Since 2007, Sled Island’s thoughtful, eclectic programming and independent spirit have fused with Calgary’s youthful energy to produce a one-of-a-kind festival experience. Each June, the five-day music and arts festival brings together a community of over 250 bands, comedians, filmmakers and artists as well as over 30,000 attendees in more than 35 venues, transforming the city into an arts lover’s paradise that has earned rave reviews from artists, fans and media from across the globe. Sled Island has been described as “…one of Calgary’s most eclectic and expansive music festivals…” (CBC); “One of the most exciting music festivals in the world…” (AUX.TV); and “Sled Island has single-handedly redefined Calgary’s music scene, which is no small feat.” (Get Outside Canada).



In the spirit of innovation and creativity there is Protospace – a shared workspace that provides tools and a pool of creative knowledge to our community. Protospace is Calgary’s original, community-based, member-driven maker space, offering access to workshop space, education, community, and shared tools. The space is located in the Northeast quadrant of the city. Their doors are open to the public every Tuesday night for Meet and Geek open house events, and 24/7 for members.


Photo: Steve Tsuida, courtesy of Protospace