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Celebrating 50 Years: 1978

Banff School of Fine Arts becomes autonomous from the University of Calgary

University involvement in Banff can be dated to 1933 when an experimental theatre program was run out of Banff School Board facilities. The Banff School of Fine Arts evolved from these small beginnings as a department of the University of Alberta offering Fine Arts courses in painting, piano, choral work, creative writing, weaving, design
and pottery. Helen Stadelbauer, a founding member of the University of Calgary’s Department of Art attended courses at the Banff School in the late 30s and early 40s. She painted many images during her subsequent forays to Banff, including this 1939 poster.

Courses were originally offered during a summer program, but as the caliber of instructors grew, the School expanded into a year-round centre for Fine Arts. The infrastructure also kept pace with the growth of the School with residences, teaching and performance spaces being built during the 60s and 70s. The Banff School of Advanced Management came into being in 1952, and although an independent organization, shared space with the School of Fine Arts in what became known as the Banff Centre for Continuing Education, or Banff Centre.

Stewardship of the School was transferred to the University of Calgary when the UofC became autonomous in 1966. In 1971, the Banff School of Fine Arts and Centre for Continuing Education was administered for the first time by an “independent” council although still under the aegis of the University of Calgary.

The Banff Centre gained its own autonomy from the University of Calgary in April 1978 when the Banff Centre Act proclaimed it as an independent, non-degree granting institution. The Centre’s mandate involved “providing to the public the opportunity of access to a broad range of learning experience with emphasis on the fine arts, management studies, language training and environmental training.”

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