Alex Sarian, President & CEO of Arts Commons: Making Art Available to All Calgarians

December 25, 2020

Hosted by Robert Rimm

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Now available from Arch Street Press

For 34 years, Arts Commons has been one of Canada’s largest and most vibrant arts centers. Located in the heart of Calgary’s Cultural District in the downtown core, the center occupies a full city block and is home to five theatres and the world-class Jack Singer Concert Hall.

Each year, Arts Commons hosts over 1,800 performances and events, including live theatre, concerts, dance productions, readings, public forums, art exhibits and much more—all open to the public. The resident companies of Arts Commons—including Alberta Theatre Projects, Arts Commons Presents, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Downstage, One Yellow Rabbit and Theatre Calgary—create, perform and present a wide range of award-winning and highly acclaimed theatre and concerts each season.

In January of 2020, the Arts Commons board of directors announced the appointment of Alex Sarian as president and CEO. He joined Arts Commons after seven years of leadership roles at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City.

As a recognized authority on the civic role of arts institutions, Alex has lectured and given workshops across the United States, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Spain. As a professor, he has designed and taught undergraduate and graduate courses on audience development, business management and arts education for New York University, Pace University and City College of New York. He has served on numerous governing boards, special advisory committees and funding panels. He is currently a trustee of The New Group, an award-winning off-Broadway theatre company; an advisor to SXSW, one of the largest film, interactive media and music festivals in the world; a philanthropic advisor to Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires (Argentina); and was the second arts professional to be invited to serve on the selection committee for the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, an annual $1m award to an outstanding educator.

Originally from Toronto, Alex lived in Buenos Aires for 15 years, where he had the privilege of performing (piano and choir) in venues such as the Teatro Colon Opera House before moving to New York City in 2002 to pursue a career in arts management. He received undergraduate and graduate degrees from New York University, and was an inaugural graduate of the Impact Program for Arts Leaders at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.