08/30/2011 02:56 EDT | Updated 10/30/2011 05:12 EDT

Alberta Tory candidate Alison Redford OK with proposed Calgary movie studio

EDMONTON - One of the candidates for the Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership says she's open to the idea of the province helping fund a new state-of-the art movie studio.

Alison Redford says she first wants to crunch numbers on what would be called the Alberta Creative Hub in Calgary, but adds the concept meshes with her proposal to expand the role of the arts in the province.

"I think it's important to look at it," Redford said Tuesday before outlining her arts policy at a downtown Edmonton park.

"If it makes economic sense and it's actually something that supports what I've been talking about, then I'm very open to looking at it, because when you get that kind of a combination, it's the right way to go."

The $32-million proposal for land at Calgary Olympic Park includes two massive sound stages along with offices, editing and production suites.

The idea would be to lure filmmakers now choosing other cities such as Vancouver to take advantage of the Rockies and southern Alberta badlands as sites for exterior movie work.

The City of Calgary has already committed to about one-third of the cost. Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett would like another third from the province, with the balance sought from the federal government and private investors.

The project would keep homegrown artists in Alberta, which Redford said is critical to her vision.

"What I don't want arts and culture to be anymore is a two-page policy," she said.

"We have a Ministry of Culture and it has a granting program — and somehow we think that because we have a ministry and a granting program we have — quote — 'dealt' with culture.

"That's not what culture is. Culture is about everything we're doing every day of our life in public spaces ... in our schools."

Redford's plan focuses on making arts more integral to school curricula along with campaigns to get more students interested.

There would be a conference to chart the future growth of the arts, tax incentives for philanthropists and extra funds, as available, for cultural institutions and made-in-Alberta projects.

The goal, she said, is not necessarily to capitalize on art.

"When we get it right it will lead to economic development."

The arts issue has flown under the radar through most of the campaign to replace outgoing Premier Ed Stelmach.

Redford is running along with caucus colleagues Doug Horner, Doug Griffiths and Ted Morton. Rick Orman and Gary Mar, cabinet ministers in previous Tory governments, are also vying for the top job.

Horner has said he would renew a commitment to the arts by doubling funding over the next three years for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

He has also said he would allow tax incentives for art investment, create a cultural ambassador program and advance commercially viable arts projects such as motion pictures.

Orman has promised to increase lottery funding and integrate arts further into the province's economic diversification plan.

Griffiths has said he would look at further investment in top-level arts instructors in schools and transforming some buildings for art instruction.

Mar and Morton have not put forward plans.

Tory party members will pick a new leader Sept. 17. If none of the candidates gets a simple majority of votes, the top three will move to a second and final round of balloting Oct. 1.

Stelmach has announced he will step down at that time.