The National Arts Centre’s “Road To 2019” : New Visual Identity and Tagline

What is this initiative about?

On February 25, 2014, the National Arts Centre unveiled its “Road to 2019,” a series of significant events and milestones leading up to its 50th anniversary. 

On the eve of its 45th anniversary on June 2, 2014 – and as the countdown begins to its 50th in 2019 – the NAC also unveiled a new tagline, “Canada is our stage,” which reflects the NAC’s goal of playing a vital national role in the performing arts.

The NAC is also launching a fresh, new visual identity, including a new logo, to better represent that national role, a role that that has expanded significantly since it opened its doors in 1969. Both “Canada is our stage” and the new logo will serve as a first step in the NAC’s Road to 2019.

What is the “Road to 2019”?

The “Road to 2019” is a series of significant events and milestones leading up to the National Arts Centre’s 50th anniversary.  Key “Road to 2019” projects include:

  • The NAC Orchestra’s Performance and Education Tour of the United Kingdom in October 2014 to commemorate the First World War Centenary. The tour will feature His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales as Royal Patron, and a double performance with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, as well as a concert at Salisbury Cathedral where Canadian troops trained in 1914;
  • Ontario Scene, the seventh in a series of biennial multidisciplinary festivals celebrating artists from different regions of the country, which will showcase hundreds of Ontario artists at the NAC and in venues across the National Capital in the spring of 2015;
  • The Canada Scene festival, celebrating Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017 and showcasing hundreds of artists in a magnificent expression of Canadian culture. Canada Scene will feature new works by our country’s most important artists, and collaborations with arts organizations across Canada;
  • The National Arts Centre’s 50th anniversary year in 2019, featuring remarkable performances and major artistic projects with artists and arts organizations from across Canada;
  • A new five-year Strategic Plan to be unveiled at the end of the year, outlining a bold vision leading to 2019.

Why did the NAC change its logo? Why now?

The development of the new NAC logo was the culmination of an 18-month branding project led by a group of NAC staff to ensure that all of our stakeholders – from artists and employees to audiences and donors, from arts organizations across the country to our government funders – have a clear idea of what the NAC does and why it matters. 

The goal of the branding initiative was to create consistency in terms of explaining what the NAC is and what it aspires to be, in telling our success stories much more effectively, and in imagining what our story will be in the years leading up to our 50th anniversary in 2019 and beyond.

More than 700 Canadians – employees, artists, arts organizations and partners – were consulted as part of the 18-month NAC branding project.

Why couldn’t the NAC keep its old logo?

The old hexagon logo served the NAC well for more than 44 years. But the NAC has outgrown it.

Designed in 1969, the NAC’s hexagon logo was inspired by the architecture of the building and the three original “arms” of the NAC – Music, Theatre and Dance. The NAC has evolved significantly since then, becoming a vibrant, national organization that is more than just bricks and mortar. (In fact the NAC has grown to include six disciplines, namely Music, English Theatre, French Theatre, Dance, NAC Presents and the NAC Scene.)

The NAC has developed an elegant, contemporary visual identity that more accurately reflects what the NAC has become and aspires to be.

What does the NAC aspire to be?

The NAC aspires to create a national stage for the performing arts by working collaboratively with artists and arts organizations across Canada. The NAC wants to be known as a home for Canada’s most creative artists. It should strive to be artistically adventurous and serve as a catalyst for performance, creation and learning in every part of the country.

The NAC’s new visual identity and tagline “Canada is our stage” reflect how the NAC collaborates daily with artists and arts organizations across the country to help them tell their stories to Canadians in the most compelling way. They reflect the NAC’s national role, and the work it has done for decades to shine a spotlight on Canada’s artists.

Examples of the NAC’s national work include countless English Theatre, French Theatre and Dance co-productions with companies from across the country (and the world), as well as the creation of the all-Canadian NAC Presents concert series. The 2013 Year of the North – featuring the NAC Orchestra’s tour of Northern Canada and the wildly successful Northern Scene – was also a perfect illustration of our national aspirations.

How will a new visual identity/brand image benefit the NAC? 

A more focused brand image will in turn help the NAC better tell its story to a national audience, allow for improved engagement of all its stakeholders, and potentially generate higher sales and more donations.

A unified visual identity/brand image will also give the NAC the tools to better tell its story to audiences outside the National Capital Region. 

What does the new NAC logo mean?

It depends how you look at it! Some see a spotlight shining on a stage while others see the letter “N” (for national) or “A” (for arts). One of the strengths of the logo design comes from the fact it can be interpreted differently by various viewers.

The NAC has developed an elegant, contemporary visual identity that more accurately reflects what the NAC has become and aspires to be.

Who designed the new logo/visual identity?

The NAC visual identity was designed by the highly-respected Canadian agency Scott Thornley + Company of Toronto. The agency is led by principal and creative director Scott Thornley who has won more than 175 international awards for design and was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts in 1990. Mr. Thornley and his agency know the NAC well having worked on many of our campaigns over the years.  

What is the colour of the new logo?

In a nod to the NAC’s original corporate colour palette, the new logo is purple (or Pantone 2114C/2115U to be precise).

Were funds taken away from artists to pay for this visual identity project?

No. Funds to pay for the visual identity project came out of existing NAC budgets – not artistic programming budgets.

A more focused brand image will in turn help the NAC better tell its story to a national audience, potentially generate higher sales and more donations, and allow for improved engagement of all its stakeholders.

To minimize costs, the NAC will spread the implementation of the new visual identity over many months and, in some cases, years. Certain items such as letterhead and signage will be changed immediately, while others such as some building fixtures will be replaced at the end of their natural lifecycle.

Where can the public get more information this project? How can the public provide feedback?

More information about the new NAC brand is available on the NAC’s Web site at

Additional feedback forms are available at the NAC Reception Desk and at the NAC Box Office.  

If specific information about this project cannot be found in this document or on the NAC Web site, questions can be sent to Rosemary Thompson, NAC Director of Communications and Public Affairs at