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A Case for the Arts

"Science will get us out of this. But art will get us through this."

- Mo Willems, American Writer

As we move into a new, post-pandemic Calgary, it will be the Arts that HEAL us:





Help Calgarians recover from the impact of COVID-19

Through the powerful medicine of the arts we hope to share the stories that heal and empower. Stories that bring people together to build stronger community relationships and create much-needed conversations.

– Michelle Thrush, Past Director & current Artistic Director, Making Treaty 7.


  • 83% of Calgarians value more than ever the social connections that come from attending in-person arts, culture, sporting and entertainment events regularly, and are eager to return.⁽¹⁾

  • 93% of Calgarians are connected to the arts and culture sector in one way or another.⁽²⁾

  • 89% of Calgarians believe arts and culture activities bring people together.⁽²⁾

  • In 2017, 49,500 people volunteered at arts and cultural organizations for a total of 7.3 million hours.⁽³⁾


Energize Calgary's Economy

I call the age we are entering the Creative Age because the key factor propelling us forward is the rise of creativity as the primary mover of our economy.

– Richard Florida, Author and Professor of Economic Analysis and Policy, Rotman School of Management


  • In 2019, Calgary Arts Development (CADA) granted $9,789,980 to Calgary arts organizations. In turn, those organizations earned a total of $132,450,827 in revenue.⁽⁴⁾

  • Pre-pandemic, Calgary arts organizations annually hired just shy of 10,000 artists and employed 1,550 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.⁽⁴⁾

  • The operational spending of CADA-funded arts organizations generates a recurring annual economic impact of $134M in GDP activity for Canada, and $16.6M in revenues contributed to the three levels of government.⁽⁴⁾

  • The economic impact of the arts in Calgary is actually significantly greater than what’s reported here. There are over 300 non-profit arts organizations in Calgary, but the numbers above only reflect the economic impact of the 156 organizations that are currently funded by Calgary Arts Development.⁽⁵⁾


Attract Talent & Tourism

As today’s workers become increasingly mobile, quality of place has become a key determinant of where people choose to live. Even cities with a wealth of employment opportunities cannot thrive if residents are not given access to unique aesthetic, cultural, or demographic offerings.

– Steven Pedigo, VP Strategy, Resonance Consultancy


  • In 2019, Calgary arts organizations reported a total attendance of over three million people.⁽⁴⁾

  • In 2016, tourists visiting Calgary spent just under $71 million on creative industries goods and services.⁽³⁾

  • Nearly half of Tourism Calgary’s Strategic Framework focuses on events and experiences, with strong emphasis on cultural experiences and festivals.⁽⁶⁾

  • Around 70 percent of young college graduates decide where to relocate based on quality-of-life factors. Urban life and city amenities influence their choice of city more than economic conditions.⁽⁷⁾


Lead Calgary into a brighter future for all

“Arts and culture play a vital role in improving neighbourhood life in Calgary. Participation in the arts helps local residents by building social cohesion and establishing local identity and image.

– Leslie Evans, Executive Director, Federation of Calgary Communities


  • 74% of Calgarians believe a strong arts and culture scene is key to creating a vibrant city.⁽⁸⁾

  • Canadians who rate arts, culture & leisure in their city or town as “excellent” are 2.8 times more likely to report a “very strong” sense of belonging to their city, compared to those who rate arts as “poor”.⁽⁹⁾

  • 81% of Calgarians under 25 say the arts help them appreciate other perspectives and cultures.⁽⁸⁾

  • 50% of Calgarians believe there should be greater emphasis on creating public art that honours Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour’s histories and cultures.⁽⁸⁾

  • 89% of Canadians believe that arts & culture helps educate children. Studies indicate that students in arts-integrated and STEAM classrooms tend to outperform their counterparts in both math and language arts on standardized tests.⁽¹⁰⁾

It’s clear that the arts play a vital role in the growth and well-being of our city.

Now, it’s up to you to make the arts a priority. Let the HEALing begin.


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