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|Not-for-profit organization, registered Canadian charity|
|Headquarters||Calgary, Alberta, Canada|
|Johann Zietsman (President & CEO)|
Occupying a full city block, Arts Commons is a six level complex measuring over 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2) . It is one of the three largest arts centres in Canada. In addition to a variety of performance spaces, Arts Commons also houses rehearsal halls, theatre workshops, offices, meeting rooms, a café, and art works from community groups and galleries displayed throughout.
The oldest part of the city block that houses the Arts Commons is the Burns Building, named after noted Calgarian Pat Burns. Construction began in April 1912 and was completed at a cost of $350,000. In the late 1970s, the demolition of the Burns Building became a possibility, because it was on land needed for the construction of the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts. Demolition proposals were defeated by the Calgary City Council by one vote, and, along with the Calgary Public Building (built in 1930/31 at a cost of almost $2 million), the building was incorporated into the plan for the Arts Centre. In 1979, the Public Building was bought by the City of Calgary for $3.8 million and its upper floors are still occupied by City of Calgary offices.
The newly created Centre was officially opened on 14 September 1985 by the then Premier of Alberta Peter Lougheed. After a donation by EPCOR, an Edmonton, Alberta-based utilities company, the name was changed to the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts on 1 May 2001.
On 17 December 2014, at the Annual General Meeting, it was publicly announced that the performing arts centre would be rebranded as Arts Commons, the name which represents “the Arts” and which expands the organization's offerings beyond the performing arts to a wider variety of arts and genres, given the organization's expansion beyond what is presented just on stage. "Commons" is derived from the old town square concept where ideas are shared, people from all walks of life gather, and different perspectives are welcomed.
Almost 400,000 people attend 1800-plus performances and events each year at the Arts Commons. Such events include live theatre, dance, spoken word and readings, children's events, experimental theatre, art exhibits, public forums, weddings, training sessions, meetings, arts education activities, sporting events and competition, award ceremonies and concerts ranging from symphonic music to jazz, folk, blues, world and rock.
Performance and other facilities
- Jack Singer Concert Hall, with 1,800 seats, is the largest venue in the building. Suspended above the stage is a 185,000-pound laminated spruce-wood acoustical canopy, which can be raised or lowered to tune the hall according to the specific needs of each performer. Named for Jack Singer, the Concert Hall is the permanent home of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, which employs 65 full-time musicians, and the 6,040-pipe Carthy Organ.
- Max Bell Theatre is a 750 seat theatre and is home to Theatre Calgary.
- Martha Cohen Theatre is a 418 seat theatre and is home to Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP).
- Big Secret Theatre is a 190 seat theatre and is home to One Yellow Rabbit.
- Engineered Air Theatre is used for concerts, films, plays, weddings, receptions, and galas. Can seat up to 185 theatre-style.
- Motel is a 50 seat black box, multi-purpose venue used for plays, experimental theatre and performance art and is home to Downstage.
Activities and performances
Arts Commons presents music programming, arts education (personal and professional development) and movies. Programs include the BD&P World Music Series, PCL Blues Series, TD Jazz Series, Art!Flicks and Arts Learning projects (SummerACT, One Day Arts School and Artist in the Classroom). The Arts Commons facility also hosts the Gallery of Alberta Media Art (GAMA) a screen based media gallery in the +15 portion of the building.
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