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FOL Theatre Calgary Jon Jackson

Theatre Calgary executive director Jon Jackson in Max Bell Theatre. Photo credit: Wil Andruschak © Postmedia Content Works

Joel Schlesinger © Postmedia Network Inc.

Theatre Calgary is one of the city’s longest running arts and culture success  stories.

And while the city’s oldest and largest theatre company puts on acclaimed performances, such as its reimagined and highly  successful holiday staple  A Christmas Carol, executive director Jon Jackson says the company’s role goes  beyond entertainment.

It’s also a key part of the city’s economy and social fabric — like so many other arts and culture institutions in Calgary, he says.

“There is a thriving arts scene that greatly contributes to the city’s economy,” says Jackson, who took over as the head of the theatre company in 2018.

“The arts and culture sector contributes roughly  $2 billion to Calgary’s GDP,” he says, pointing to the most recent data from 2016.

Overall, the arts industry in the city employs about 10,000 people annually,  including 700 at Theatre Calgary. What’s more, last year Theatre Calgary put on 215 performances at  either Max Bell Theatre or its riverside summer space for Shakespeare on the Bow,  attracting more than 90,000 attendees in total.

In short, it’s a thriving business as much as it is a cultural institution. This year, the theatre has equally exciting productions lined up, including a new Canadian musical called The Louder We Get.

The made-in-Calgary production is based on the true story of Marc Hall, who fought for his right to take his boyfriend to a Catholic school prom.

And capping off the 2020 season is an equally crowd-pleasing show — Million Dollar Quartet, another  musical based on a true story.

“It’s about a fateful night in Memphis, Tennessee, when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis came together for a one-time recording  session.”

Besides a lineup of lively shows, Theatre Calgary also runs several programs aimed at cultural enrichment, including a matinee program for city schools and paid internships that let novices work with seasoned theatre veterans.

All these initiatives, Jackson adds, show that Theatre Calgary’s contributions — like those of other cultural institutions — are about more than dollars and cents.

“Its value proposition is so much more,” he says. “In short, art helps people grow.”

This feature was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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