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.

A lineup outside the Globe Cinema | Photo: Courtesy of the Calgary International Film Festival

Calgary International Film Festival

It was a Friday night screening of a documentary film in September 2015 at the Globe Theatre, but for Steve Schroeder, it was everything a film festival is capable of being. The doc in question was Guantanamo’s Child. It told the story of Omar Khadr, the Canadian teenage boy who’d been charged with murder as a 15-year-old during the Afghan war, and sent to Guantanamo Bay until he was relocated to a prison near Edmonton, before being released. Khadr’s story was controversial and widely-covered. Part of the terms of his release from prison were that he couldn’t leave the house of his attorney, where he was living—until that Friday night at the Calgary International Film Festival.


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.

Market Collective

Eleven years ago, Calgary residents Angel Guerra and her friend Angela Dione found themselves at a flea market in West Hillhurst, where hundreds of people drop by every Sunday, to pick over an assortment of old records, hardcover books, vintage clothing, hockey memorabilia, used bicycles, coins, and other collector’s items. It inspired Guerra and Dione to try a variation on the same theme. What if they arranged a similar event, only instead of selling memorabilia, it would feature young artists selling new work? With local bands playing live? And DJs spinning records?

Families have always been a key part of Market Collective | Photo: Mike Tan

IN 2018:

Calgarians work in an artist occupation, comprising 1.4% 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 the 2016 Canada census).

Fans gather on Olympic Plaza following the Parade of Wonders | Photo: Courtesy of Calgary Expo



The Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo is a four-day pop-culture convention held in annually each spring Calgary at Stampede Park. Planning began in 2005 when a group of local nerds decided to bring some notable comic book artists to Calgary, wrangle up some vendors, and put on a fun show for kids of all ages. Since its first fledgling year in 2006, which had an attendance of 3,400 people, the Calgary Expo has grown to be the largest pop culture convention in Western Canada with an annual attendance of about 85,000 people.



Melanie Parsons, artist and owner of Savage Rose Designs, is a proud Cree Métis woman who was born in, and lives in, Calgary. This area is also known as Mohkinstsis, the traditional lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Parson launched Savage Rose Designs in 2010 and comes from a long line of Cree artisans. She finds joy in spending hours perfecting her craft, sharing her expertise and learning new skills or techniques from other Indigenous artists. Parson embraces her heritage and promotes Indigenous culture and practices through her art.

Savage Rose Designs | Photo: Courtesy of Melanie Parsons