Banff Centre

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Banff Centre
Motto Inspiring Creativity
Type arts, cultural,
& educational institution
& conference complex
Established 1933
President Janice Price
Location Banff, Alberta,
Campus Tunnel Mountain in
Banff National Park

The Banff Centre, formerly known as The Banff Centre for Continuing Education, located in Banff, Alberta, was established in 1933 as the Banff School of Drama. The Banff Centre is part of Alberta's post-secondary educational system, granted full autonomy as a non-degree granting educational institution in 1978. Globally respected as an arts, cultural, and educational institution and conference facility, The Banff Centre is a leader in the development and promotion of creative work in the arts, sciences, business, and the environment and offers arts programs in the performing and fine arts, as well as leadership training.[1] The Banff Centre is also a member of the Alberta Rural Development Network.[citation needed]


The Banff Centre is affiliated with the University of Calgary which became its trustee and a significant student feeder in 1966. The Centre was founded in 1933 by the University of Alberta,[2] with a grant from the U.S.-based Carnegie Foundation and began with a single course in drama.

The success of this course generated additional arts programs and in 1935 the Centre became known as The Banff School of Fine Arts. As arts programming continued to succeed and develop, conferences were introduced in 1953 and management programs in 1954. In 1970, to acknowledge the broader educational role of the school as well as its move toward a centre of experiment and innovation, it was renamed The Banff Centre for Continuing Education (The Banff Centre for short). In 1978, Alberta government legislation granted The Banff Centre full autonomy as a non-degree granting educational institution under the governance of an appointed board. In the mid-1990s, The Banff Centre, along with most public institutions in Alberta, sustained cuts to its operating grant. The Centre responded in an entrepreneurial way and launched a successful capital campaign (The Creative Edge) to raise funds for state-of-the-art revenue generating conference facilities, as well as a new Music & Sound complex. The new facilities opened in 1996, the same year the Centre's fourth division, Mountain Culture programming, was created. A few years later, in 1999, The Banff Centre was recognized as a National Training Institute by the federal government and was awarded $3 million over three years for artistic training programs.[1] In 2003, it became host to the Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery. In December 2008, the name was officially changed to "The Banff Centre." Today in the 21st century, the Centre continues its role as a catalyst for creativity.

Arts Programming[edit]

As a specialized Arts and Culture Institution, drawing participants from Alberta, across Canada and globally, The Banff Centre is nationally and internationally renowned as a centre of excellence in creativity and the arts. The Banff Centre’s mandate outlines that its core area of specialization is the Arts, offered at the professional, post-graduate level. Programs are characterized by applied research, independent study, creation, collaboration, production, performance and dissemination of new work. Arts programs are offered in a range of Performing, Visual and Literary Arts including, but not limited to: Music, Audio Engineering, Theatre Production and Design, Dance, Opera, Aboriginal Arts, Painting, Digital Film and New Media, Photography, Ceramics, Printmaking, Sculpture, Poetry, Narrative and the Spoken Word.[3]

Visual Arts[edit]

The Banff Centre’s Visual Arts programs focus on professional development, research, and training opportunities in media and visual arts. The programs provide access to world-class facilities in photography, sculpture, printmaking, papermaking, ceramics, textiles, painting, performance, media arts, film, and video, as well as curatorial and critical studies.[4]

Visual Arts programming at The Banff Centre is divided into four main areas:

Creative Residencies[edit]

Creative Residency programs offer artists a unique opportunity to explore, expand, and develop their practice within the Banff Centre studio environments. Residencies facilitate theoretical and intellectual growth through interaction with a peer group, lectures, and mentorship, while providing access to the tools and support needed to nurture the creative process. Artists have the opportunity to explore other Visual Arts facilities, regardless of their primary discipline, with a goal of opening up new possibilities and directions in the production of their work. Artists are given access to studio spaces that reflect the needs of their individual practice. Defined as Thematic or Banff Artist in Residence (BAIR) programs, the Banff Centre Creative Residencies are internationally recognized for the quality of programming and facilities.

Thematic Residencies offer a structured program where artists, curators, and other arts professionals are brought together to research a specific theme.

Banff Artist in Residence (BAiR) programs offer independent periods of study where artists, curators, and other arts professionals are free to experiment and explore new directions in the production of their work. BAIR offers short and long-term opportunities to work at a remove from the constraints of everyday life.

The Walter Phillips Gallery[edit]

The Walter Phillips Gallery, established in 1976, is committed to the production, presentation, collection, and research of contemporary visual art and culture. The Gallery exhibits and collects painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, ceramics, textiles, photography, and new media-based works. The Gallery’s substantial collection of video art is housed in the Paul D. Fleck Library at The Banff Centre and is available for public viewing.

The Banff International Curatorial Institute[edit]

The Banff International Curatorial Institute (BICI) provides unique support for emerging and mid-career curators through its curatorial residency and Work Study programs, and provides professional development opportunities through think tanks, symposia, and publications.


By 1936, music became an important part of the program and remains so today. The Banff International String Quartet Competition was established in 1983[5] and the Banff Festival of the Arts, established in 1971,[6] has seen several Canadian premieres including Michael Daugherty's opera Jackie O, John Metcalf's Kafka's Chimp and Jonathan Dove's Siren Song. In 1947 the centre moved from the town of Banff to its present location on Tunnel Mountain in Banff National Park. Although the centre operates year round, its summer school is Canada's oldest major summer school of the arts as noted in the Encyclopaedia of Music in Canada (Greene and Spier eds).[7] During Metcalf's period as artistic director of the department of music theatre in Banff, he workshopped a number of operas, including his own Tornrak, and in recent years the Centre has supported the creation of a number of new Canadian operas including Filumena,[8] and Frobisher[9]

In addition to its arts programming, conferences were introduced in 1953 and management programs in 1954. In 2003, it became host to the Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery. In December 2008, the name was officially changed to "The Banff Centre."

The Banff Centre also operates an instrument bank for the use of younger musicians in mid career.[10]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Colombo, John Robert (1984). Canadian Literary Landmarks. Willowdale, Ontario, Canada: Hounslow Press. p. 247. ISBN 0-88882-073-9. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Cecilia String Quartet nabs 1st place at Banff". CBC News, Arts and Entertainment. September 7, 2010. Retrieved Sep 1, 2013. 
  6. ^ Dawson, Eric (July 30, 1977). "Banff 'amateurs' not amateurish". The Calgary Herald (Calgary, Alberta, Canada): 1. Retrieved Sep 1, 2013. 
  7. ^ Banff Centre for the Arts, summer school
  8. ^ Filumena, Banff Centre
  9. ^ Frobisher.
  10. ^ Instrument Bank

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°10′19″N 115°33′42″W / 51.171843°N 115.561677°W / 51.171843; -115.561677