Banff School of Fine Arts
By the 1940s, the highly popular Banff School of Fine Arts was attracting distinguished teachers and dedicated students from all across America. However, the School had needed to refuse a number of applicants because of a lack of accommodation. In 1947, work began on constructing new facilities. To raise money, the University of Alberta established the Banff Foundation.
Original: History Trails
The Banff School of Fine Arts was founded in 1933 by Edward Annard ("Ned") Corbett, the second Director of Extension at the University of Alberta. The grant for the Banff School of Drama, as it was originally called, came from the US-based Carnegie Foundation. There were 190 students enrolled in the first two-week course. In 1936, creative writing, playwriting, and painting were added to the school, which was now called the Banff School of Fine Arts. Donald Cameron, who succeeded Corbett as Director of Extension, became Director of the Banff School of Fine Arts in 1936, the same year the first music course was offered.
The School began with a single course in drama but, by 1945, the Banff School of Fine Arts offered courses in theatre, art, music, short story writing, weaving and design, leathercraft, and spoken French. In 1944, 366 students from all over North America attended the school, which was also staffed by people from all across America. The Banff School kept its fees low and provided scholarships to enable students to participate in the programs.
The Banff School of Fine Arts continued to grow. In 1947, the first building was built on the St Julien site in the town of Banff. Five years later, in 1952, the Banff School of Advanced Management was founded. Two years later, the Banff School of Fine Arts started offering its own courses. In spite of this, the Banff School of Advanced Management remained affiliated with the Banff Centre. By the 1950s, there were also opera, photography, and dance programs.
In 1966, the University of Calgary became trustees of the Banff School of Fine Arts and, in 1969, Donald Cameron retired as Director. In 1970, to acknowledge the greater educational role the school had taken on, as well as its increased position as a centre for innovation, the name was changed to the Banff Centre for Continuing Education. The Alberta Government granted the Banff Centre full autonomy as a non-degree granting educational institution in 1978.
The Banff Centre continued to improve its programming and facilities. In the 21st century, it is recognized globally as a leader in creative business, arts, and environmental studies and as an exceptional educational institution and conference facility.
Alumni and faculty of the Banff Centre include:
- Oscar Peterson, the famous jazz musician who helped set up the Jazz Workshop at the Banff Centre in 1974.
- W.O. Mitchell, the author of books such as Who Has Seen the Wind and Jake and the Kid, received the first annual Banff Centre School of Fine Arts Award.
- Frank Borg, the writer/executive story editor for Da Vinci's Inquest (1999-2002).
- Ben Heppner, internationally acclaimed operatic tenor
- Shauna Rolston, renowned cellist and Head of the University of Toronto's String Department.
- Sharon Pollock, one of Canada's leading English playwrights.
- The St. Lawrence String Quartet, winner of the 1992 Banff International String Quartet Competition, Juno award winner, and ensemble-in-residence at Stanford University
- Catherine Crowston, deputy director and chief curator of the Art Gallery of Alberta.
- Tracy Dahl, critically acclaimed Winnipeg soprano
- Carol Shields, 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Governor General's Award winner for The Stone Diaries.
- Miriam Toews, winner of the 2005 Governor General's Award for Fiction for A Complicated Kindness.
- Arcade Fire/Bell Orchestre members Sarah Neufeld, Richard Perry, Pietro Amato, Kaveh Nabatian, and Stefan Schneider.
- Yann Martel, author Life of Pi.
- Dan Graham, considered one of the most successful contemporary installation artists practicing today, with work commissioned by almost every European country, and half of Asia as well.
To read more about the Banff Centre, please visit its website