Calgary’s cultural landscape on the upswing

Calgary’s cultural identity has been largely associated with white cowboy hats, denim and the Stampede. The city isn’t commonly known as a cultural mecca with innovative infrastructure nor reputable cultural spaces.

However, change is happening at cultural institutions like the 50-year-old Glenbow Museum, the new home of the National Music Centre (NMC), which will be opening this summer, and the massive New Central Library (NCL) which may become a popular downtown meeting place. These developments may have an impact on locals and visitors by providing an opportunity to access more cultural spaces.

With Calgary’s hurting economy, projects like the NMC and the NCL are expected to enhance the city on a large scale.

“The downturn is devastating but it provides us with the opportunity to be countercyclical and the city is organizing itself around the project of big capital spending for the next four to five years,” said Ward 9 Coun. Gian Carlo-Carra.

The city is taking bold steps to ensure Calgary continues to be vibrant and robust. Cultural spaces — in a more high-culture context such as museums, libraries, music centres and art galleries — are continually evolving away from the reputation of being an authoritative experience to being innovative and collective experiences.

“It’s much more of a democratic process when guests come and they have ownership over their experience while witnessing something that is meaningful for them,” said Jenny Conway Fisher, Glenbow’s manager in marketing and communications.The innovative design of the National Music Centre will provide Calgary with a larger platform for artists to showcase, celebrate and make music.Photo courtesy of Mack Male via Creative Commons

The museum is featuring Free First Thursday Nights where patrons can visit the downtown facility for free. There is no longer a financial barrier preventing guests from attending and the notion of an ‘expensive night out’ is no longer relevant, especially for those who are affected by the current economic situation, said Conway Fisher.

Innovative spaces like the NCL will provide Calgarians with a modernized facility featuring state-of-the-art technology in approximately 240,000 sq. ft. of space. The new structure will sit above a light rail transit line and will be home to approximately 600,000 books, a laboratory and age-specific areas for children and teens.

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation is quarterbacking the development team for the NCL. Susan Veres, senior vice-president, strategy and business development, confirms that construction is on schedule.

“At the end of this year, a major milestone will be achieved as a superstructure support will be in place allowing the building to take its form.” The library is expected to be complete and opened to the public in 2018.

Thumbnail courtesy of Mack Male via Creative Commons

criabko@cjournal.ca

The editor responsible for this article is Dan Ball, dball@cjournal.ca