Christopher Deacon was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of Canada’s National Arts Centre in June 2018. Throughout his career, he has been a champion of the arts in Canada who believes in supporting ambitious new creation and propelling Canadian artists on the world stage. He is also a strong proponent of making performing arts centres more open, accessible, and engaged with their communities. His first year as President and CEO celebrated the 50th anniversary season of the NAC with a number of special initiatives, including a European Tour by the NAC Orchestra, and an open house that welcomed thousands of Canadians to backstage tours and performances.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, Christopher Deacon has guided the organization through a challenging financial situation, and focused on leading and supporting the renewal of the Canadian performing arts sector – the vision of the NAC’s three-year Strategic Plan, The Next Act. Under his leadership, the NAC artistic team has created many new digital initiatives in support of that vision, most notably #CanadaPerforms, which provided financial support (from privately raised funds) to 700 Canadian artists from across the country for their online performances. The two-year partnership now supports livestreamed performances at the NAC and in venues nationwide. The NAC has also spearheaded research about Canadians’ attitudes toward returning to live arts and culture, and has published national re-opening guidelines for performing arts organizations and venues.
Christopher Deacon has prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion at the National Arts Centre. His tenure included the landmark launch of Indigenous Theatre and its highly successful first season in 2019-2020. More recently, he enabled NAC artistic leaders to bring forward initiatives such as the naming of Montreal’s Black Theatre Workshop as Co-Curating Company of NAC English Theatre; the programming of an increasing number of IBPoC artists and companies; the hiring of a Director of Equity and Inclusion; and anti-racism training at the Board, Senior Management and staff levels of the organization.
During his 22 years as Managing Director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Christopher Deacon was the driving force behind numerous ambitious initiatives. He led the Orchestra to tour nationally and internationally, including the seven-city China Tour in 2013 that included eight concerts and 80 education events, as well as the 2014 UK Tour, the largest Canadian initiative overseas to mark the centenary of Canada’s entry into the First World War. He spearheaded Life Reflected, a multidisciplinary, critically acclaimed NAC commission that the Orchestra performed across Canada, and in Europe in 2019. He also led the Committee overseeing the NAC’s recent Architectural Rejuvenation and Production Renewal Projects.
Christopher Deacon trained as a composer, studying piano, harmony and solfège at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec in Hull. He later received a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from the University of Toronto. He lives in Ottawa with his wife Gwen Goodier. They have a daughter, Charlotte, and he is stepfather to Katherine and Peter.