Transformational gift of $5 million and new named spaces at the NAC

The National Arts Centre (NAC) today announced a transformational gift of $5 million from Dr. Dianne Kipnes and Mr. Irving Kipnes of Edmonton. The Kipnes’ generosity in supporting the NAC and the performing arts in Canada will be recognized by naming the NAC’s new signature architectural feature, the “Kipnes Lantern”, located over the Centre’s Elgin Street entrance.

Dr. Kipnes completed nine years of service as a Director of the NAC Foundation in early 2017. She and her husband are leading philanthropists in Edmonton and have made generous gifts to the arts, health care, education and social services over many years.

“Dianne and Irv Kipnes represent the very best of Canada”, said NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf. “Passionate civic leaders in Edmonton, they have championed urban development through the arts, as well as making ongoing investments that have improved their city, their province and their country.”

“We are extraordinarily grateful to Dianne and Irv Kipnes”, said NAC Foundation CEO Jayne Watson. “This gift, coming as we celebrate Canada 150 and the NAC on the cusp of its
50th anniversary, is a powerful signal of the importance of the arts in defining who we are as Canadians.”


In addition to the Kipnes Lantern, a number of existing and new spaces at the NAC will be named after generous donors who gave more than $23 million combined to the Centre since April 2016. They include:

The Alan and Roula Rossy Pavilion
In recognition of the $1 million gift to the National Arts Centre’s Creation Campaign, a new programming space has been named the “Alan & Roula Rossy Pavilion”. Mr. Rossy is an NAC Foundation Board member from Montreal.

Atelier Belle Shenkman & Desmond Smith
In recognition of a leadership gift to the Creation Campaign by Dasha Shenkman, the NAC has named its new education space the “Atelier Belle Shenkman & Desmond Smith.”

Susan Glass and Arni Thorsteinson Staircase
In recognition of the $1 million gift to the National Arts Centre’s Creation Campaign, a new staircase linking the Elgin Street level to the Terrace level, which also will be used as a programming space, will be named the “Susan Glass & Arni Thorsteinson Staircase”. Ms. Glass, who calls Winnipeg home, is the Vice-Chair of the NAC Board of Trustees.

The Babs Asper Theatre
In recognition of the $5 million gift to the National Arts Centre’s Creation Campaign by Gail Asper and Michael Paterson, the NAC Theatre has been named the “Babs Asper Theatre” in honour of Ms. Asper’s mother, the late Ruth (Babs) Asper, a long-time champion of theatre in Canada. This gift was previously announced on September 28, 2016, when the NAC Foundation announced its $25 million campaign to raise funds for creation.

The Azrieli Studio
In recognition of a $2 million gift to the Creation Campaign, the NAC Studio has been named the “Azrieli Studio”. The Azrieli Foundation supports music and the arts, scientific and medical research, architecture, higher education, school perseverance, Holocaust education and quality of life initiatives for people with developmental disabilities. This gift was announced on
February 17, 2017.

The Janice and Earle O’Born Room
In recognition of a $1.5 million gift to the Creation Campaign, a new room that is part of the NAC’s Architectural Renewal has been named the “Janice and Earle O’Born Room.” This room will be used primarily for entertaining, rentals and hospitality purposes. Mrs. O’Born is the Chair of the NAC Foundation. This gift was previously announced on May 18, 2016.

Atrium Gail and David O’Brien
Creation Campaign Chair Gail O’Brien and David O’Brien’s $1.5 million gift to the Campaign will be honoured with the naming of the atrium that will link the new Elgin Street entrance to the existing Southam Hall mezzanine. This gift was previously announced on April 2, 2016.

The Yulanda M. Faris Stage
A new performance stage located on the same level as the new Elgin Entrance will be named in honour of the late Yulanda Faris, a former Trustee of the NAC. She and her husband made a gift to the NAC Foundation of $1 million, previously announced on April 26, 2016. Free public performances will be held on this stage on a regular basis.

Julia Foster Gallery
In recognition of gifts totalling $500,000 that were donated in honour of former NAC Board Chair Julia Foster upon her retirement, the NAC had earlier named a small lounge in Mrs. Foster’s honour. With the NAC’s Architectural Renewal, that space was removed and the new gallery above the NAC’s Elgin entrance has been named in honour of Mrs. Foster.

Buhler Family Box
In recognition of a $250,000 gift to the Creation Campaign, a box of seats in Southam Hall has been named the “Buhler Family Box”.

Alice and Grant Burton
The NAC is also honoured to have received a leadership gift of $1 million from Alice and Grant Burton, of Toronto, for highest priority needs. The Burtons are among the earliest and most generous of NAC donors. A gift from them in 1999, during a challenging time in the NAC’s history, was a catalyst for a new era of philanthropy and private support for many NAC artistic and education projects.

The Ruddy Lounge and Jenepher Hooper Prop Shop
Today’s announcement follows the recent naming of two other spaces in recognition of gifts totalling $3.5 million in support of creation and education: The Ruddy Lounge and the Jenepher Hooper Prop Shop.


“I am so pleased that donors from all across Canada have responded to the NAC’s Creation Campaign”, said Jayne Watson. “This campaign is about supporting artists and arts organizations from coast to coast to coast. To have so many donors from across the country is very meaningful.”

“The National Arts Centre is pleased to honour exceptional gifts of generosity to the arts in Canada by honouring these individuals and families,” said Peter Herrndorf.

Visitors and patrons to the NAC will see the new names on some of the spaces starting on July 1, 2017, when sections of the newly-renovated NAC officially opens, while others will take effect later in the fall as new spaces open to the public.


The NAC’s largest banquet room facing the Rideau Canal – formerly known as the Panorama Room – will be renamed “Canada Room”. By the time the space re-opens in February 2018, it will  hold 650 guests comfortably for a sit-down meal and 1,500 guests for a reception – more than double the previous capacity. It will be possible to separate the space into three individual rooms – named Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific – each with a capacity for 175 seated guests, or 400 standing reception guests.


The National Arts Centre collaborates with artists and arts organizations across Canada to help create a national stage for the performing arts, and acts as a catalyst for performance, creation and learning across the country. A home for Canada’s most creative artists, the NAC strives to be artistically adventurous in each of its programming streams – the NAC Orchestra, English Theatre, French Theatre and Dance, as well as the Scene festivals and NAC Presents, which showcase established and emerging Canadian artists. The organization is at the forefront of youth and educational activities, offering artist training, programs for children and youth, and resources for teachers in communities across Canada. The NAC is also a pioneer in new media, using technology to teach students and young artists around the globe, by creating top-rated podcasts, and providing a wide range of NAC Orchestra concerts on demand. The NAC is the only bilingual, multidisciplinary performing arts centre in Canada, and one of the largest in the world.


The goal of the NAC’s Creation Campaign is to provide a source of venture capital to give artists and arts organizations the time and resources that great work requires, and to help them achieve the kind of international success that they have long deserved. To-date, close to $25 million has been pledged to change the way art is created for Canadian stages. In November 2017, the NAC will open its National Creation Fund to foster a new level of investment in the performing arts. For more information, visit



Rosemary Thompson
Director, Communications and Public Affairs
National Arts Centre
613 947-7000 x260

Carl Martin
Senior Advisor, Communications
National Arts Centre
613 947-7000 x560

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