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Calgary Beyond the Crossroads: Striding with purpose towards becoming an international destination f

In political speeches and over cocktails at receptions, there is often talk of Calgary shedding its brand as an “oil and cowboy” town and achieving our “potential”. One can assume this means putting an end to the “yogurt joke” forever. For those of us close to the cultural sector, we are pleased to report that this is no longer some sort of elusive goal out there on the horizon. Our city is so far past that now, it’s hard to remember a time when that joke was clever.

Calgary no longer needs to apologize for being a one trick pony, or for having less culture than your favourite breakfast food. We’ve arrived – it’s not our potential we’re talking about anymore, it’s our reality. Especially in when it comes to music.

This is no accident or stroke of luck – this is the result of decades of strategic investment. In the 80’s, the people of Alberta recognized an opportunity to invest in our culture, and they seized it. Music was at the core of many of the major projects, like the Calgary Performing Arts Centre.

In 1990, the Rozsa Foundation, with a commitment to building capacity in the arts sector, came on to the scene with a transformational message: arts organizations can be successful from a business perspective. This elevated arts managers to the status of entrepreneur, building support and credibility for the arts, and for music, in a whole new way.

Fast-forward to the Alberta’s centennial, around the time the idea for the National Music Centre was germinating, and two of our major performing arts companies were creating original works. For most cities our size, the classics of opera and ballet where what people could look forward to. In Calgary, however, we were welcoming Frobisher and the Fiddle and the Drum to rave international reviews. No culture, you say?

In 2007, Sled Island arrived on the scene and began its steady climb towards becoming an international destination for the avant guard of modern music.

2008 brought the JUNOs to town for the first time, and we showed the country that this city shows up in a big way for music.

In 2012, we celebrated a year as the cultural capital of Canada.

In 2013, we broke ground on Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.

Now in 2016, as we prepare to open Studio Bell to the public, we are celebrating the Year of Music in Calgary. This is our opportunity to say to the nation “let there be no doubt - Calgarians care deeply about music. We have been making it, appreciating it and innovating with it for a very long time. We are well on our way to becoming an internationally renowned music city.”

The National Music Centre, Canada’s new home for music, coming to fruition in Calgary is the product of a community eager to invest in making our city a global cultural destination and an entrepreneurial approach to arts leadership.

The National Music Centre team is so proud to call Calgary home and we can’t wait to welcome you in July 2016 – see you soon at Studio Bell!

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