The following timeline identifies the emergence of the strategic partnership between Calgary Arts Development and The Calgary Foundation as it relates to arts incubation and the King Edward School:
Calgary Arts Development and The Calgary Foundation are conducting a period of due diligence to determine the feasibility for an arts incubator at King Edward School. This includes a structural, mechanical, electrical and hazardous material assessment to determine the architectural state of the school. Heritage architects Simpson Roberts Architecture has been retained as prime consultants to complete this assessment in addition to preliminary strategies to repurpose the school.
At Richmond School a community open house was held to introduce the community to the proposal for an arts incubator and to discuss the core values associated with the project. This was the first of several planned meetings aimed at encouraging a transparent dialog and open engagement with the community.
Community and Technical Advisory Committees have been formed to counsel Calgary Arts Development and The Calgary Foundation on considerations and possibilities for the school. Committees have been formed with local experts in areas from architecture, planning, accessibility, park and recreation, the local community, and various arts affiliations.
A Request for Proposal has been issued for procurement of master planning, re-zoning, and community engagement services to assess the broader site considerations. This work is scheduled for completion on June 15th, 2011.
Calgary Arts Development articulates its first priority of the organization’s 2011 Strategic Plan to finalize business and governance model for the development and operation of arts incubator facilities and artist focused housing, while securing one development site for the first project.
Responding to a third call for proposals from the Calgary Board of Education, The Calgary Foundation submits a bid to purchase the King Edward School. Chosen as the preferred proponent, The Calgary Foundation and Calgary Arts Development sign a Memorandum of Agreement to undertake the due diligence on redeveloping the site as an arts incubator.
Calgary Arts Development reiterates its intent to establish an entrepreneurial art space development initiative modeled on Toronto Artscape in its business plan.
In partnership with the City of Calgary, Calgary Arts Development manages a project identification process that elevates 14 cultural facility projects through its Arts Space Investment Process. Of those facilities, seven small- to medium-scale facilities were recommended for municipal funding, including one multi-tenant arts incubator (yet to be realized).
The Calgary Foundation partnered with Calgary Arts Development to bring John Holden, Head of Culture at DEMOS, a leading London UK think tank for ‘everyday democracy’ for a public presentation and discussion with local champions on the value of arts and an arts incubator initiative for Calgary.
The Calgary Foundation commissioned a report by Paradox Inc., Towards an Arts Incubator: A Model for Advancing the Arts and Artists in Calgary. Overseen by staff and the Arts and Heritage visionaries, the report brought together much of The Calgary Foundation’s previous concepts and research on arts incubators.
After a failed private sector close on the property, Calgary Board of Education once again put King Edward School up for sale. The Calgary Foundation did not submit a bid on the property but turned attention, with Calgary Arts Development, to assessing the feasibility of an alternative location for an arts incubator on Seventh Avenue. The successful private sector bid on King Edward School again did not close due to financing issues.
With funding support from The Calgary Foundation, Calgary Arts Development completes its comprehensive research on cultural facilities, The Current State of Cultural Spaces for the Arts in Calgary. Among the priorities identified in the report, the increasingly challenging environment for individual artists and emerging arts organizations illustrated a demand for an ecology of affordable and stable incubation spaces and live-work opportunities. Key priorities articulated by the community included:
- culturally infused public spaces,
- adaptive re-use of heritage buildings for arts uses,
- live and work space,
- architecturally inspiring spaces clustered in inner city areas, and
- incubator spaces to promote collaboration and encourage career development for emerging artists.
The subsequent Arts Spaces Strategy and Capital Plan positioned ‘cultural cluster incubator spaces’ as one of four facility archetypes that were prioritized for investment.
Declared surplus to its educational needs, the Calgary Board of Education announced that King Edward School was for sale. The Calgary Foundation submitted a bid to purchase the school with the intent to facilitate the creation of an arts incubator. Unsuccessful in its proposal, The Calgary Foundation focused on additional partnership initiatives with Calgary Arts Development.
David Rockefeller, Jr. was brought to Calgary by The Calgary Foundation, presenting publicly about his family’s work and leading a small gathering of donors and community leaders in discussing the value of the arts and of an arts incubator initiative for Calgary.
Province of Alberta pledges $3.3 billion to the City of Calgary over 10 years through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant program. City council then allocates $165 million of the MSI fund (3%) to capital infrastructure projects for arts and culture.
The visionaries determined that an appropriate Arts and Heritage “signature project” would be to establish an arts incubator as a medium-term initiative, with the long term goal being to increase the awareness and value of the arts to Calgary. The Calgary Foundation’s Strategic Plan adopts proactive leadership as a new focus and identifies the Forever Funds initiative as a key strategy.
The Forever Funds, a dedicated and strategic funding stream, was formally launched as part of The Calgary Foundation’s 50th Anniversary. Two “visionaries” were recruited for each Forever Fund initiative and were gathered as a group in an intensive strategy session to advance this work. Visionaries in Arts and Heritage were Bob White, Artistic Director of Alberta Theatre Projects, and Marc Boutin, award winning Calgary architect. The outcome of the session was the identification of potential “signature projects” in each Forever Funds area - a “project of permanence” that makes a lasting impact on the community. The visionaries identified a number of key directions that provided the initial framework for an arts incubator, including:
- building awareness, an appreciation for creativity, design, and heritage;
- supporting and promoting the space needs of small arts organizations as these were considered to be the “incubator” groups of emerging artists that eventually feed larger organizations and projects;
- assisting these smaller organizations to get into a dedicated building with long-term arrangements, accommodating a mix of various arts disciplines;
- repurposing an existing heritage building, similar to projects in Winnipeg and Toronto; and
- connecting the artist to the community in a tangible, meaningful way.
From its inception under the auspices of the 2004 Civic Arts Policy, Calgary Arts Development has identified the need for an entrepreneurial approach to space development. The organization’s inaugural business plan identified an intent to investigate the feasibility of developing multi-tenant art spaces.
The Calgary Foundation signaled its intent to play a more proactive leadership role in community building. Through its research into community needs, Arts and Heritage was determined as one of five strategic areas.