First Free Thursday Night at Glenbow Museum
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Arts + Culture

The Inauthentic Arts Lover’s Guide to the Fall Arts Scene in Calgary

Calgary’s fall arts season is about to begin. But let’s get real. Ballet and opera and serious theatre aren’t for everyone.

Maybe you’re an arts beginner. You’re dipping your toes into Calgary’s arts scene and learning how to appreciate theatre, dance and visual art slowly. Or maybe you’ve told someone you’re a serious arts enthusiast, they’ve expressed interest in joining you for an experience, and now you don’t know the next step to take.

Either way, there’s a lot to love about this fall’s arts scene. Even if you’re more of an inauthentic arts lover, you’re still sure to find something to suit your taste.

1. The situation: You’re an artist and you’ve told people you have sold your artwork.

The reality: You’re an artist and you’ve never sold any artwork.

The solution: This is the year to change that. Every Wednesday night, there’s a live art auction at Rumble House, and everyone and anyone can come along. Artists of all kinds have just two hours to create a piece of art, which they can then keep or auction off. Walk through the doors to participate in the art challenge or just come by to place a bid on a piece you love.

The live art auction has been happening every Wednesday night for the last five years. Rumble House, 1136 8 Ave. SW, 403-629-7424,

2. The situation: You tell everyone you meet that dance is your passion. You do it, you watch it and you live it.

The reality: You took ballet as a kid, but that’s the last time you really invested any time into serious dance.

The solution: It’s time to get dancing again. Try a class during $5 Class Week at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Pay $5 per class to try out ballet or hip-hop or Bollywood dance. After that reignites your love for dance, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to see a professional show by the DJD troupe.

$5 Class Week runs at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks several times a year. The next session is Aug. 28 to 31. The first DJD show is titled Velocity and will be performed Nov. 16 to 26. Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, 111 12 Ave. SE, 403-245-3533,

3. The situation: You like art. Truly, you do and you want to see as much of it as you can.

The reality: It can be expensive to go to galleries and you always forget to factor them into your budget.

The solution: Between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month, admission to the Glenbow is totally free. You can see the whole museum without dipping into your savings. (Photo featured above.)

The next First Free Thursday Night is Sep. 7 and it runs until the end of 2017, at least. Glenbow Museum, 130 9 Ave. SE, 403-268-4100,

4. The situation: Ever since you graduated with a BFA in theatre, your family and friends have all expected that you’d be seeing serious, thought-provoking shows every weekend throughout the fall and winter.

The reality: Theatre shows can be long and sometimes you just don’t want to see a solemn show on a Friday night.

The solution: Go to any Lunchbox Theatre show. The shows are all just one act and last about 60 minutes. This is essentially an express theatre experience — you can even go during your lunch hour. Individual tickets are $26 or go to the first Thursday evening performance of each production and your ticket will be just $10. This $10 ticket option is new this year.

The first Lunchbox Theatre show of the year is Book Club II: The Next Chapter and it runs Sep. 18 to Oct. 7. Lunchbox Theatre, 160 9 Ave. SE, 403-265-4292,

5. The situation: Your aunt is a music teacher and every year, as a kind of bonding experience, you go to a classical concert together.

The reality: She always looks forward to this. The last time you went to a classical music concert you fell asleep.

The solution: Suggest that this year, you both attend a concert that’s part of the CPO Specials series. You’ll hear music from Disney movies like The Little Mermaid and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone performed by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. The movie is projected at the same time.

The first concert in the CPO Specials series is La La Land in Concert on Sep. 21. Jack Singer Concert Hall, Arts Commons, 403-571-0849,

6. The situation: You tell your friends you love music so you spent all summer learning how to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto Number 3.

The reality: You actually spent all summer learning the words to Despacito.

The solution: Studio Bell hosts a night time, adults-only event for music lovers of all sorts. It’s called Studio Bell After Hours and there is karaoke, a DJ, a dance floor and interactive music lessons. They run roughly once a month throughout the fall.

Studio Bell After Hours events in the fall run on Sep. 22, Oct. 27 and Nov. 24. Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, 850 4 St. SE, 403-543-5115,

7. The situation: You’ve said that you love going to the opera and you totally get what’s going on.

The reality: You don’t speak any Italian (or German or French) and have trouble understanding opera storylines. Who’s in love with who now?

The solution: Cowtown Opera productions are the answer. The group has done comedic, English interpretations of operatic classics, sing-alongs and variety shows based on pop culture hits like Orange Is the New Black and The Bachelor. You’ll understand every word sung and have no problem following the plot. Sometimes, shows are even reinterpreted so that they’re set in Calgary.

Cowtown Opera will be announcing the shows in its 2017/2018 season after Labour Day. Various venues,

8. The situation: You pretend to be an art connoisseur whenever visual art comes up in conversation.

The reality: You know a few names and a few terminologies, but that’s it. (Stop kidding yourself — do you really know what “chiaroscuro” means?)

The solution: Combine a night out with some art education. Late Night Thursdays at Contemporary Calgary continue into the fall and correspond with the gallery’s new exhibitions. You’ll learn a little about art and the new exhibition thanks to guest speakers, but there’s also food, music and cocktails.

The date of the next Late Night Thursday event is still to be determined. Contemporary Calgary, 117 8 Ave. SW, 403-770-1350,

By Elisabeth Kellisdottir; featured image credit: Elyse Bouvier for Glenbow Museum