City of Calgary announces intention to divest of Calgary Film Centre




The City of Calgary has initiated a process to divest of the Calgary Film Centre Ltd. (CFCL) five years after the facility opened in southeast Calgary and helped usher in a new era for the film and TV sector in the city.

“The Calgary Film Centre opened five years ago to support more film and television production and help develop the sector and that’s been achieved,” said Patricia McLeod, Board Chair, Calgary Film Centre. “The industry is flourishing and there is increased demand and competition for studio space, so the time is right to explore a sale. Calgary Economic Development and The City were never intended to run the Film Centre over the long term, and it will develop further when owned by a private-sector player.”

The Film Centre facility is owned by the City of Calgary and managed by Calgary Film Centre Ltd. which is a subsidiary of Calgary Economic Development Ltd. Calgary Film Centre Ltd. is governed by an independent Board of Directors. Calgary Economic Development manages CFCL’s activities under a management services agreement.

City Council approved exploring the sale of the Film Centre on May 10, 2021.

The City of Calgary has retained Ernst & Young Orenda Corporate Finance Inc. (“EY”) to support The City in the sales process. No date has been set for completion of the transaction, but Council indicated its goal is to have the divestment completed in 2021.

“The film and TV sector is seeing exponential growth and the Calgary Film Centre played an important role in helping make that happen, so it was a good investment but it’s time to let the private sector to take it forward and grow the business,” said Jeff Davison, Councillor for Ward 6 and member of the CFCL Board.

The Film Centre opened in May 2016 with three purpose-built sound stages on an 8.35-acre site with warehouse and workshop facilities. William F. White International – which provides production services and equipment for film, television, digital media and theatre – is the anchor tenant.

The sound stages have been effectively operating at 100 per cent capacity since shortly after they reopened with strict COVID-19 protocols last June and are fully booked through summer 2022.

In 2020, the film and TV sector contributed $90 million and created more than 2,474 jobs to the Calgary economy, even with significant COVID-19 constraints. In 2019, it contributed $197 million to the city’s economy.

The announcement from The Government of Alberta this spring to create a more competitive tax credit program for the industry has provided more impetus for increased production in the region.

“The potential of film and television as a major contributor to creative industries in a diverse economy is starting to be realized. In addition to the quality of our talent, crews and outstanding venues and facilities, the right level of government support is serving as a critical catalyst to the significant growth,” said Luke Azevedo, Vice-President, Creative Industries, Calgary Economic Development and Alberta Film Commissioner. “In the last five years, film and TV has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to our economy and created thousands of jobs. The industry is on a trajectory to be an even greater contributor to Calgary and Alberta’s economy.”

Calgary and Southern Alberta have a long history of Emmy (Fargo) and Academy Award (Unforgiven, The Revenant) winning productions.

In January 2021, industry publication Moviemaker listed Calgary among the top 10 destinations in North America for film and television productions in its annual list of Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker.

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