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New National accessArts Centre Plans Unveiled

August 10, 2021

The National Access Arts Centre (NaAC) has released the designs for their new disability arts venue in the northwest Calgary community of Westmount

NaAC, Canada’s oldest and largest disability arts organization, has unveiled its plans to build a multidisciplinary arts venue adjacent to the old Scouts facility currently being retrofitted to house NaAC artist training and administration. Combined, the two buildings will make up a broader disability arts campus, purpose-designed to support the needs of artists with disabilities across Calgary and Canada – the first of its kind in the world.

DIALOG’s design envisions a space that ushers in a new era of equity, accessibility and inclusivity as a state-of-the-art cultural infrastructure for the performing arts. Through recognizing and celebrating diverse, intersectional identities, the new design reimagines how the site can be activated, ultimately serving as a catalyst to invite vibrant expressions and connections amongst the community, and beyond.

The new center will house a performing arts studio, a visual arts gallery, community spaces, and serve as the second Calgary location for highly-celebrated social enterprise Lil E Coffee Cafe. The design showcases an adaptable approach to accommodate a diversity of art forms and scales – indoors and out – with modular and flexible spaces, while leaving some spaces undefined.

“Very early on, the team decided to move beyond an approach that was based on technical compliance, to an inclusive design methodology, which recognizes that there are multiple forms of identity – everything from age to language fluency, socioeconomic status and cultural background,” says Jodi James, DIALOG Associate. “This is a building that can be modified to suit the artists, rather than requiring the artists to suit the space.”

In consideration of the environmental footprint for the next generation, a ‘climate positive’ approach to design is employed: the creation of a healthy, durable, demonstrable building that is energy efficient, low-carbon, and designed to run on clean energy.

With plans now complete, the NaAC awaits funding from the Canadian government and land approvals from the city of Calgary, with construction set to begin in late 2021. Learn more at

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