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Calgary businesses to let artists use empty space

Business owners hope to bring creativity to the workplace

Roots2Stem owner Dean White hopes the business' incoming creator will add an artistic flare to the space.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Roots2Stem owner Dean White hopes the business' incoming creator will add an artistic flare to the space.

It’s kind of like dating, and the Calgary Arts Development Authority (CADA) hopes a few “marriages” are made. 

Since launching Artists in the Workplace, CADA has seen six business sign up to open their doors to artists looking for space. 

The idea culminates from Calgary’s staggering economy, where businesses are looking to fill their empty office spaces with creative individuals of all sorts, according to Joni Carroll, the arts spaces consultant with CADA. 

Dean White, owner of Roots2Stem, talks to a robot (name again) that uses sound and facial recognition to interact with people. The robot (name again) is used at Root2Stem to teach students how to program.

Jennifer Friesen / For Metro

Dean White, owner of Roots2Stem, talks to a robot (name again) that uses sound and facial recognition to interact with people. The robot (name again) is used at Root2Stem to teach students how to program.

The first company to sign up is Roots2Stem, an organization known for teaching high-tech craftsmanship to budding engineers or those simply looking to learn something new. 

Roots2Stem owner Dean White said he’s inviting artists because he wants to bridge both art and engineering.

“We want all the science and the technology, but we want the art too.” White said. “We want our students to understand that we’re a community coming together.”

Carroll said she was thrilled when she learned Roots2Stem wanted to sign up. 

“When people usually think of an artists space, they think of a painter’s studio,” she said. “That’s still part of this program, but we there’s way more variety out there.”

Roots2Stem will offer 3D printers, among other high-tech gadgets that artists can use. 

But not all of CADA’s business applicants are loaded with gizmos, Carroll said. In fact, some are simple cubicles, offering artists a space to do things like paperwork.

York Realty is another business offer its space. The company is offering two large industrial spaces for artists in the northeast and southeast quadrants of the city. 

“It’s a great way to use the few spaces we have,” said Erik Dobrovolsky, senior asset manager with York Realty. 

Carroll said artists pitch their ideas to the business and then both parties come to an agreement, which includes things like rent. 

Dean said he’s looking for someone with great ideas who can inspire students. 

“Adding something more creative to our environment is certainly more advantageous,” he said.

Dobrovolsky said the company is open to all artists who need a large space, as long as they respect it. 

Carroll said she’s pleased with the number of businesses that have already signed up, though she wouldn’t mind adding more to the mix.

“Calgary’s arts scene is more diverse than people think,” she said. “I think this is a big opportunity for business and artists, given the current state of the economy.”

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