Spreading Joy, Innovation and Connection

Banff Centre celebrates 90 years of arts, creativity and togetherness.

Dora Award­-winning opera Orphée+ opening at Banff Centre in 2018. Directed by Joel Ivany, Artistic Director of Opera, Orphée+ is a co-production with Banff Centre, Against the Grain Theatre, and Opera Columbus. Photo: Donald Lee

Conceived by Albertan trailblazers at the height of the Great Depression, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity has remained true to its original mission of cultivating and celebrating the creative spirit for the past 90 years. Long before Banff Centre was founded, Sacred Guardian Buffalo Mountain was a place for people to gather and connect. The shoulder of the mountain was a fitting location for what has become one of the most respected centres in the world for arts, culture, creativity and community.

Art students painting by the Bow River with faculty Murray MacDonald in 1956. Photo courtesy of Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives.

In marking this 90th anniversary milestone, Banff Centre honours the legacy of its origin story and the visionaries who have carried it forward. Over nine decades, Banff Centre has lifted the careers of over 100,000 artists and leaders. We have also hosted household names, like Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Oscar Peterson, Rebecca Belmore, Sarah Mclachlan and Fred Penner. Hundreds of thousands more have visited Banff Centre’s exceptional facilities attending shows, conferences, fine dining and globally renowned events like the Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival and the Banff International String Quartet Competition. 

Banff Centre’s offerings have evolved and grown over the years. Indigenous Leadership programming has deep roots at the centre, recently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Thousands of Indigenous leaders from Canada and around the world have shared ideas and experiences in the interest of advancing Indigenous empowerment and self-determination against the backdrop of creativity and innovation.

At its core, Banff Centre is an educational organization, where artists and leaders hone their craft in collaborative cohorts and are provided space for focused retreat in the unparalleled beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Arts and leadership directors curate relevant and meaningful programs for small groups that are part creation lab and part sanctuary. 

Banff Centre campus including commissioned public artwork The ghosts on top of my head by acclaimed artist Brian Jungen. Photo: Chris Amat.

Radiating from its deep educational and creative core, Banff Centre is a gathering place to courageously explore wild ideas and new perspectives, elevated above the din of everyday life. Perhaps at a meeting, a show, a meal or a multi-day conference, visitors come to Banff Centre to open their minds and hearts to the limitless potential of human creativity. 

“I want to thank every artist, leader, team member, donor and guest that has supported the advancement of Banff Centre over the past 90 years,” says Chris Lorway, the centre’s president and CEO. “I am grateful to have joined this vibrant and supportive community. Together, we will continue to grow a more thoughtful, meaningful and joyful world.”

Canada’s artists or leaders of any kind, audience members or seekers of ideas and creation have likely benefited directly or indirectly from Banff Centre supported work. From concept to execution, Banff Centre continues to help shape the careers and works of some of the nation’s most inspiring artists, leaders and visionaries.

Learn more and see what’s on at banffcentre.ca.

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