New Works Calgary came about because the artist John Snow had commissioned a trio by Allan Rae and discovered there were no performance opportunities for the piece. Surprised by this, John and his wife Kathleen sponsored a concert of new music by Calgary composers and musicians, in association with the Canadian Music Centre, celebrating the 25th anniversary of its foundation in April 1984. The success of this concert encouraged John and co-founder Quenten Doolittle to continue with a concert series that would feature new works. As a result, the “New Works of Art Calgary Society” was established in 1984 and has maintained a continuous series of three to seven programs each season ever since.

The need for New Works Calgary was best expressed by John Snow:

 “New paintings are easily seen by everyone, even if it is only by looking in the window of an art gallery. Written works are almost as easy being available from libraries, magazines, books, and many radio programs. More difficult are works for the theatre and most difficult of all is to have the opportunity to hear new music.”

As co-founder Quenten Doolittle has said, “Our general goal has been not only to present contemporary Canadian music in all its diversity but also to explore the rich collaborative possibilities between Canadian composers and poets, writers, video and performance artists, visual artists, dancers, actors, and musicians.