Our Story

At Common Ground Arts Society, we radically invite artists of all disciplines at all stages of their career to wildly experiment with process and craft. We believe in people and process over product: come as you are; create from where you’re at; learn, fail, try again, fail better; tend to your whole self; share art, share kindness, share in community. Mentorship and learning is at the core of everything we do: we’re still learning, we’ll never stop learning, and we want to share in those lessons with you.

Our Vision: Common Ground envisions a flourishing arts ecosystem where historical barriers and exclusions are replaced with a diverse artistic landscape, fostering a community that thrives on creative risk and ambitious storytelling.

Our Mission: Common Ground champions inclusivity and dismantles barriers to arts work through inventive development, mentorships, and presentation opportunities that incite positive change.

Common Ground Arts Society was founded in 2009 by Patrick Lundeen, Simon Gorsak, and Nicholas Mayne through a multidisciplinary collision cabaret titled The Edmonton Show. Over the years that followed under Patrick’s leadership as Executive Director, The Edmonton Show grew, featured hundreds of local artists, and led to the co-founding (Andrew Ritchie, Elena Belyea, and Molly Staley) of Found Festival in 2011. In over a decade, Found Festival has grown to present over 100 local and national works of art that celebrate all disciplines of art in unexpected places.

Beth Dart became the Found Festival Director and Artistic Producer of Common Ground in 2016. Beth led an incredible team of humans to attain charitable status, produce the largest Found Festivals to date, adapt and provide dozens of opportunities to artists throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and support major new works from the Major Matt Mason Collective, Tiny Bear Jaws, and Thou Art Here Theatre.

In 2021, Common Ground announced a brand new collaboration with Toronto’s Why Not Theatre to launch RISER Edmonton, a revolutionary project incubator that leverages underused resources into the hands of historically excluded or underrepresented producers. The program featured its first productions in 2022.

Today, Common Ground builds opportunities for over 100 artists per year between RISER, Found Festival, and other special projects and presentations. This is only possible with the support of our membership, 40+ arts workers, and 30+ volunteers. In 2022, Beth passed leadership of Common Ground to Mac Brock after her six years of tireless service. The organization is led by a volunteer board of directors (current president Hitomi Suzuta), Mac as Managing Producer, Found Festival Director Whittyn Jason, Associate Producer Sarah Emslie, and Administrator Shannon Lin.

Common Ground is proud to be one of our city’s most flexible, dynamic presenters of multidisciplinary arts work. We commit to never stop listening, never stop asking “what else is possible?”, and never stop striving to provide the most caring and process-driven platforms for artistic development.

We have completed a new strategic plan for 2024-27 that prioritizes accessibility for artists and audiences alike, contributing to Edmonton’s profile as a global destination for alternative and independent theatre, and maintaining our agility as an organization that can respond to what artists and audiences need now.

If you want to be the first to know about some big new projects coming soon (or you want to be a part of making them possible)…