Calgary will be the home for a new $12 million multidisciplinary disability arts venue
By Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
The National accessArts Centre (NaAC) revealed their plans for a $12 million disability arts venue featuring artworks from artists living with disabilities, outdoor gathering spaces, community rental spaces, an arts training campus and a local café.
NaAC, Canada’s largest and oldest disability arts organization, was able to make this progress through financial support from the federal government’s Canada Cultural Spaces Fund.
“Every city has a performing arts centre, a museum, or an art gallery – but Calgary will be the only city with infrastructure dedicated to the needs and talents of artists living with disabilities.”, said Jung-Suk (JS) Ryu, President and CEO of the NaAC.
One of the site’s buildings will showcase NaAC’s performing arts programming like shows and concerts as well as community-oriented spaces like a gift shop, a café and a gallery space.
“Now, Calgary will truly become the national capital of this important, much-celebrated element of our arts and culture sector.”, Ryu added.
One of the main driving forces behind the design of the arts centre is the unique needs of artists living with disabilities. Through four years of engagement with NaAC’s team members, sister organizations and its celebrated artists, DIALOG, the architectural firm behind the arts centre’s design, was able to come up with an approach that recognizes multiple forms of identity. This spans across people of all ages, language fluencies, cultural backgrounds from the “big broad strokes of the project to the most nuanced decisions”.
“What we’re talking about is a building that can be modified to suit the artists rather than requiring the artists to suit the space. That’s a critical difference.”, DIALOG associate Jodi James said.
The arts centre also champions environmental preservation behind its design. They call it “climate-positive design”.
James describes it as “the design of healthy durable demonstrable buildings that are energy-efficient, low carbon in construction and run on clean energy”. This means looking at not only the fuel that the building runs on but also the carbon footprint of each material being used for the building and in the building.
Another aspect of the climate-positive design is its accountability through third-party certification. Designing the centre comes with the intention to pursue net-zero carbon certification.
“Taken all together, what we’ve described is an approach [to design] that is local in its sensitivity but global in its perspective and I would argue that is a much better way to build,” James added.
NaAC is hoping to secure more funding from the Government of Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings (GICB) program which can potentially cover 60% of the project’s eligible costs.
When finally green-lit, the project will be kickstarted by the approval process through the City of Calgary which owns the land.
“We are optimistic that the federal government will come on board. This project will not only add jobs through the construction process, but it aligns so perfectly with the sought-after outcomes around green and inclusive infrastructure outlined in this particular funding program.”, Ryu added.