December 14, 2018– OTTAWA (Canada) – The National Arts Centre enjoyed an extraordinary and highly successful 2018. It included extraordinary performances on our stages, collaborations with arts organizations across Canada, the appointment of a new President and CEO, and dozens of events in the NAC’s beautiful and extremely popular new public spaces.

As the NAC prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019, we present the 12 highlights of 2018.

1) The completion of the NAC’s Architectural Rejuvenation project, and the renewal of the NAC’s performance halls

The opening of the Canada Room event space in March 2018, and of Equator Coffee Roasters in the NAC’s new atrium in April 2018, marked the completion of the Architectural Rejuvenation Project, a $110.5 investment in the NAC. The project included the addition of new public spaces, which welcomed the community with dozens of free events and activities in 2018. In September 2018, the NAC lifted the curtain on upgrades in its performance spaces, including a stunning new orchestra shell that has dramatically improved the acoustics in Southam Hall, the NAC’s signature venue. Part of the $114.9 million Production Renewal Project, the upgrades have brought the NAC’s venues back to contemporary standards. The Architectural Rejuvenation and Production Renewal projects were funded by two successive federal governments.

2) The Kipnes Lantern

The signature feature of the new NAC building, and the largest transparent LED screen in North America, launched at midnight on January 1, 2018. Since then it has become a beacon in downtown Ottawa, projecting stunning imagery of performing arts activity at the NAC and across Canada through partnerships with arts organizations across the country. The Lantern also plays a role in key national events and celebrations, including Canada Day, Remembrance Day and Day of Pink.  A particular highlight was National Indigenous Peoples Day, when the Lantern displayed the stunning artwork of Métis artist Christi Belcourt. Lantern imagery is created in collaboration with Montreal-based multimedia studio Moment Factory. The Kipnes Lantern is named in honour of Edmonton’s Dr. Dianne Kipnes, C.M., and Mr. Irving Kipnes, C.M. in recognition of their generosity.

3) The National Creation Fund announced investments of more than $2.9 million in 19 projects being developed across the country by some of Canada’s top creators

Under the leadership of Artistic Producer Heather Moore, the Fund invested more than $2.9 million in its first year in the development of ambitious new works by artists and arts organizations from across Canada. NAC English Theatre, led by Artistic Director Jillian Keiley, is this year presenting The Hockey Sweater: A Musical by Emil Sher and Jonathan Munro, directed by Donna Feore.The hit production by Montreal’s Segal Centre (December 5-23), is one of the first projects to arrive on the NAC stage after a National Creation Fund investment. It enabled a musical theatre dramaturg to refine the script and score; additional rehearsal and development time with the creative team to incorporate changes to the original production; and adjustments to the set for future touring. The National Creation Fund is funded by generous donors from across Canada.

4) The appointment of Christopher Deacon as President and CEO of the National Arts Centre

As Managing Director of the NAC Orchestra for 22 years, Christopher Deacon is an adventurous arts administrator who led some of the NAC’s most ambitious projects, including international orchestra tours and the multimedia work Life Reflected. He also chaired the committee overseeing the Architectural Rejuvenation and Production Renewal projects, which are revitalizing both the building and the institution. Mr. Deacon was appointed on June 12, 2018, and the announcement was met with great enthusiasm from across the country.

5) Farewell to Peter Herrndorf

The NAC bid a fond farewell to Peter Herrndorf, who was the NAC’s President and CEO for nearly 19 years. On March 1, 2018, the NAC Foundation hosted a star-studded evening in his honour that raised more than $1.1 million (net) for NAC Indigenous Theatre. In his last months in the position, the NAC named one of its new public spaces in his honour (Peter Herrndorf Place). He received the Key to the City from Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, and an honorary degree from Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Finally, he received a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement and was celebrated at the Gala on June 2, 2018 – his last day as President and CEO.

6) The NAC Orchestra’s performance of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem and the world premiere of The World Remembers during Remembrance Week

As Canadians commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, and remembered the Canadian soldiers who fought and were killed in the First World War, the NAC Orchestra performed Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem featuring the NAC Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Germany (Bundesjugendorchester) on November 9, and The World Remembers, a free concert featuring the world premiere of a song cycle commemorating the First World War, on Remembrance Day. Both concerts were conducted by Music Director Alexander Shelley.

In other news, the NAC Orchestra announced that it will welcome Arna Einarsdóttir as its new Managing Director in the spring of 2019. She is currently the Managing Director of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

7) NAC Dance’s sold-out presentations of Nijinsky by The National Ballet of Canada and Dance Me by BJM—Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal

NAC Dance, led by Executive Producer Cathy Levy, continued its long-standing relationships with some of Canada’s leading dance companies. Dance presented three sold-out performances of John Neumeier’s acclaimed theatrical ballet Nijinsky by The National Ballet of Canada (January 25-27), and two sold-out performances of Dance Me, the multimedia homage to poet and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, created by BJM – Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, in collaboration with choreographers Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Andonis Foniadakis and Ishan Rustem (February 23-24).

8) Tour of Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show

The creation of Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show was led by NAC French Theatre, which is headed by Artistic Director Brigitte Haentjens. The ambitious new creation brought together some of the most gifted artists in English, French, Indigenous and Métis theatre from various parts of the country. With dramaturgy by head writers Jean Marc Dalpé, Alexis Martin and Yvette Nolan and seven other writers, the acclaimed show, which premiered at the NAC and appeared in Montreal in the fall of 2017, toured to Le Cercle Molière in Winnipeg (February 17-19) and to Saskatoon’s Persephone Theatre (February 27-March 4). The show also travelled to Quebec City June 7-8, where it was presented by Festival Carrefour international de théâtre de Québec.

9) Exceptional Indigenous artists at NAC Presents

NAC Presents, the NAC’s all-Canadian music series led by Executive Producer Heather Gibson, included a number of exceptional performances by Indigenous artists, including A Tribe Called Red with Jeremy Dutcher, Creeasian and respectfulchild (November 22), and Elisapie (November 29), among many others. NAC Presents also partnered with MEGAPHONO and Voluntary In Nature to present the Native North America Gathering (February 9), which included legendary artists like Duke Redbird, Willie Thrasher and Alanis Obomsawin.
In addition, the NAC was proud to welcome Lori Marchand, the highly respected former head of Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops, B.C., as Managing Director of Indigenous Theatre. She will work alongside Artistic Director Kevin Loring as they prepare to launch Indigenous Theatre’s first season of programming in the fall of 2019.

10) The Music Alive Program in Atlantic Canada

The Music Alive Program sends local and visiting artists to rural and remote communities, empowering rural, Indigenous, and underserved communities through music and the arts. Active in western and northern Canada, in 2018 the program increased its activity in Atlantic Canada after a pilot year in 2017. Events included workshops for Indigenous youth at the People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Centre in St. George’s NL, and music creation workshops in Lennox Island and Scotchfort PEI, in partnership with the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI. The Music Alive Program in Atlantic Canada is a partnership with the Canada Council for the Arts. Honorary Patrons of the program in 2017-2018 are Fred and Elizabeth Fountain.

11) The Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala

Led by Executive Producer Virginia Thompson, the Gala celebrated the lifetime achievement of Andrew Alexander, Geneviève Bujold, Peter Herrndorf, Angela Hewitt, Ginette Laurin and Murray McLauchlan. Florence Junca Adenot was honoured with the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts, and Tegan and Sara received the National Arts Centre Award. The National Film Board of Canada partnered with the Awards to produce exceptional short films about each laureate, and CBC/ICI Radio-Canada produced digital shorts.

12) The NAC Gala featuring Diana Ross, Alexander Shelley and the NAC Orchestra

The Queen of Motown dazzled the crowd in Southam Hall, performing hits like “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Baby Love,” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.” Organized by the National Arts Centre Foundation, led by CEO Jayne Watson, the NAC Gala on October 3 raised $782,000 (net) for the National Youth and Education Trust, which funds the NAC’s arts education programs across Canada. The evening also featured violinist Blake Pouliot, an alumnus of the NAC’s Young Artists Program.


Founded in 1969, the National Arts Centre will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019. The NAC  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 and NAC Presents. 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.



Mary Gordon
Senior Communications Advisor
National Arts Centre
613 947-7000 x849