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Arts Commons announces landmark $75-million gift from Dave Werklund

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June 26, 2024

On June 26, Alex Sarian, CEO of Calgary’s Arts Commons announced a historic $75-million donation by Calgarians Dave Werklund and family, the largest philanthropic gift to the performing arts in Canadian history.

Arts Commons will invest the $75 million gift towards construction costs, create the Dave Werklund Education Wing, and establish four funds to support the sustainability of the following institutional priorities: education, accessibility, operations, and an ongoing endowment to rename Arts Commons as Werklund Centre in perpetuity, starting in the 2025-26 season.

At the heart of the Arts Commons Transformation (ACT), currently the largest arts-focused infrastructure project in Canada, is an intentional effort to create a performing arts space that is of Calgary — a place where everyone is welcome and comfortable. Working together with Calgary’s Hindle Architects, and Arizona- and Calgary-based Tawaw Architecture Collective, this concept guided the entire design process and laid the groundwork for a design philosophy centered around community, arts, and culture.

Deep research and focused engagement led to the concept of a lodge as inspiration for the design of the building that includes a gently curved building form, the use of natural materials, and a design spirit that welcomes you in to share and hear stories. The lodge opens to embrace the adjacent public plaza and captures natural light from Alberta’s expansive sky, creating a performing arts space that will welcome Calgarians with open arms.

Read more about the architectural design here.