Calgary Science Centre Society
We bring people together to learn, play and create with science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).
Our community transformed by a culture of curiosity, risk-taking and problem solving.
Collaboration: We believe that encouraging debate and dialogue, embracing diverse perspectives, and partnership with our communities’ results in better ideas and outcomes.
Curiosity: We are always wondering, always questioning, always seeking to learn.
Courage: We believe in innovative thinking and taking risks. We embrace change. Our courage to fail gives us the confidence to succeed.
Commitment: We are deeply passionate about our mission and pursue it in everything we do, and in how we do it.
Notable highlights in 2017:
2017 was a very important year for TELUS Spark, we celebrated our 50th Anniversary. It was a significant milestone as we continued to contribute to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and innovation in our city and region. Although we had challenges with a softer economic climate, it did confirm that TELUS Spark needs to stay on course with plans to diversify revenue streams.
In 2017 the TELUS Spark operating plan focused on three core areas: Our Community, Our Business and Our Team. With our audience at the center we worked to ensure we were a positive and supported force in our community, our revenues where diversified and stabilized and our team was innovative, engages and safe.
OUR BUSINESSSeveral large-scale initiatives to diversify and stabilize our revenues were undertaken in 2017. We migrated to a new financial system and began updating existing IT infrastructure, brought our catering, food services and retail operations in-house. We launched and opened the Social Eatery and integrated the Spark Store with our internal operations and continued to refine our corporate team builder programs.
OUR TEAMOur third major employee engagement survey was undertaken in 2017, following previous surveys in 2013 and 2015. The results were carefully considered and a number of initiatives have been established to address shortcomings and move towards an even more engaged employee team. A new compensations system was introduced alongside a new competency framework for employee feedback to complement the existing “Aligning Performance for results’ (APFR) program.
To ensure that our organization remains focused on initiatives which align with what Calgarians expect from their science centre, TELUS Spark extended the data gained in 2016 strategic “listening sessions” to build a framework for future development. These same sessions identified TELUS Spark as an “important place in the City’s innovation ecosystem”, an ecosystem that will be key to realizing the successful diversification of our economy. The CEO is connected to the Rainforest AB exercises and linking project ideas with family-focused interests regarding the future of our energy systems and the future development and transformation of our city.
We are a critical contributor to the emerging trends and developments in formal education. Readying our children for the workforce of the future, Spark has provided over 75,000 students from Calgary and the surrounding region with curriculum-based programs using leading edge teaching design, pedagogy and technologies. We are the leader in Western Canada for curriculum-linked education field trips.
Access and inclusion continues to be a critical component of a Prosperous City. In 2017, the Community Connections program consists of 48 community partners representing a large cross-section of social service agencies across Calgary. The utilization of the program resulted in over 15,000 visits from individuals who may not otherwise have the opportunity to access the world of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) at TELUS Spark.
In 2017 TELUS Spark continued to work closely with the CBE, CCSB and Siksika school boards to provide transportation and educational opportunities to 3,000 underserved students during the school year. The program culminates with a Family Science Night where all participating students, their families and teachers come to TELUS Spark for a free private function where students can share their learning experiences and a meal with their families.
Our Camperships initiative provided free day camp spots to children in the community who would not otherwise have the ability to participate in day camps.
In conjunction with the Canadian Association of Science Centres and the Perimeter Institute, TELUS Spark successfully hosted the Governor General of Canada and delivered the premier of Horizon in our Dome Theatre.
Finally, TELUS Spark is part of the Cultural Access pass program that provides admission to new Canadians. Over 1,000 new Canadians visited TELUS Spark in 2017.
Through the generous financial support from the Alberta Government's Community Environment Action Grant, we are excited to compile our many learnings and iterate on the best tactics and strategies to communicate the topics of energy and climate change to families, through many piloted programs:
Because we are seen as a credible source the City of Calgary invited TELUS Spark to develop their Climate Change Education Plan (to be completed through multiple phases). This comprehensive education plan will chart a path to inform, educate and mobilize Calgarians in to climate education and will be included in the City’s Climate plan. This project could constitute an important tool for engaging Calgarians about climate action.
The Pembina Institute launched their Alberta’s New Energy Projects Map at TELUS Spark. We act as convener to discuss the latest energy development in the community and that our building acts as a living exhibit to engage Albertans about energy efficiency and clean tech.
TELUS Spark continues to be a convening space that connects citizens with our partners and contributes to urban vitality. We are much more than a science centre and are proud to act as a lighthouse for innovation within the community. Some key accomplishments and initiatives which inspire Calgary’s communities include:
Spark is fortunate to have a strong network among our donors, community partners, and corporate sponsors. The outstanding support and collaboration we receive from our funding network are essential to the sustainability of our organization and amplify our impact with students, families, and corporate guests. Donations and sponsorships are critical components to TELUS Spark's ability to innovate and remain relevant in an ever-changing and challenging world. However, with the economic recession continuing into 2017 our contributed revenue did meet target, but also showed that it has room to grow as a revenue support to operations.
Volunteers play a key role in supporting all TELUS Spark activities. In 2017, volunteers contributed 17,000 hours, largely in professional and skilled roles. This continues to help to manage staffing costs and maintaining high – level guest experiences. Many of our volunteers joined the organization after losing work to the recession.
Revenues from Facility Operations
Donations contributed net revenues of $183,080Facility Rentals contributed a net revenue of $368,902The first year of operation our own retail store contributed a net revenue of $54,218Paid programs consisting of Adults Only Nights, Sleepovers and Camps contributed a combined net revenue of $265,502
Camps and Youth Programs
Spark inspires children and youth in many ways including through Spring Break, PD Day and summer camps. In 2017, over 1400 children and youth took part in science, technology, arts and engineering and math camp experiences where they not only had fun but learned through experiential opportunities about the way the world works.
Spark is a living lab for innovating in new ways of learning for students of all ages. In 2017, over 75,000 students and their teachers participated in various workshops, semester long prototype projects, and one-week science school intensives. These students explored science, technology, engineering, art and math concepts that enhanced their learning and augmented their classroom curriculum experiences.
In 2017 TELUS Spark took retail operations in-house and it is now fully integrated into the operations of Spark. The first half of 2017 was focused on the Star Trek: Starfleet Academy merchandise strategy and the remainder of 2017 the merchandise carried in the retail store moved toward greater alignment with our mission, programs and exhibits.
Our Dome Theatre has the largest screen in North America. Last year we premiered three shows, Space Next, Horizon and Extreme Weather, in total we had 1749 shows, 69,420 viewers and totaled $320,000 in net revenue.
Society Reserve Fund
A draw of $38,750 from TELUS Spark's reserve leverage a City grant to repair the lobby flooring.
Other draws from the Spark reserve in 2017 were used to advance research on an Energy Sustainability project, to celebrate our 50th Anniversary, conduct a Master Planning and Business Analysis study, upgrade our Food Service offering, complete a schematic planning exercise for a potential building addition and conduct an admissions pricing study.
As noted earlier, a draw for $1.37M was required to balance the 2017 operating finances. The reserve fund is stable at a level deemed appropriate for emergency operations, but no longer has the capacity to support investments in visitor experiences.
Spark is guided by a five-year strategic plan, 2017-2022.
The strategic plan sets out three core principles:
RELEVANCESpark’s work is viewed as valuable by visitors and the broader community.
REPUTATIONThe community is aware of Spark and its work. Audiences are highly satisfied with the experiences and recommend Spark to others.
SUSTAINABILTYSpark is a thriving organization with the financial and human resources to deliver on its mission of bringing people together to learn, play and create with science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM).
The strategic plan focuses work to build a great science centre by implementing four key strategies:
FOCUS ON ENHANCING PROGRAMS AND EXHIBITIONSTo strengthen its position as a hub for learning and innovation.
FOCUS ON ENHANCING BRAND AND VALUE PROPOSITIONTo deepen partnerships in the community and facilitate more collaboration across sectors.
REVITALIZE AND EXPAND BUILDINGTo provide additional reasons to visit, enhance visitor experience and diversity revenues.
THRIVING ORGANIZATIONTo be an employer of choice, where staff, volunteers and Board actively contribute to success.