Arts Alive features innovative digital and in-person programming for students, teachers, families, pre-professional artists, and arts lovers

AUGUST 24, 2021 – OTTAWA, CANADA – The National Arts Centre today launched Arts Alive, a renewed and reinvigorated platform for arts learning, ushering in a new era of engagement in the performing arts. Arts Alive will be an invaluable resource for students, schools and educators, families, pre-professional artists and adults, offering innovative programs and engaging arts resources in digital and in-person formats. And with a great deal of free programming, the platform makes learning about the performing arts highly accessible to everyone.

Arts Alive features in-person and digital bilingual programming that encompasses and honours a wide range of culturally specific knowledge, languages, territories and experiences, led by a diversity of Canadian and Indigenous teaching artists in music, theatre and dance from across the country. Teaching artists include rapper Zoey Roy, singer-songwriter Ila Barker, rapper and musician YAO, hip-hop artist Boogey the Beat, loop pedal violist Kathryn Patricia Cobbler, theatre artists Stéphanie Boyer, Marie-Ève Fontaine, Omari Newton and  Emily Marie Séguin, and dance artists Allison Carrier and Siôned Watkins, to name just a few.

In Arts Alive’s School and Home Learning section, digital and in-person offerings include workshops, student matinée performances, and professional development events for teachers. Pre-professional artists can take advantage of outstanding opportunities such as the Institute for Orchestral Studies, and the NAC Orchestra Bursary Competition. And for arts lovers who are curious to learn more about the performing arts, there is plenty to peruse, including dozens of NAC podcasts, the Our Stories Indigenous book club, artist talks, video series led by professional artists, and more.

“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the tremendous need that exists for arts learning in schools, homes and communities, not only for the appreciation of the arts, but as a way to foster mental health and engage with important issues like diversity and climate change,” said Geneviève Cimon, Senior Director of Learning and Community Engagement. “Arts Alive offers innovative programming and arts learning resources led by diverse Canadian and Indigenous artists. It’s a wonderfully rich resource that will allow students, teachers, young artists and arts lovers everywhere to spark their creativity and curiosity.”

“Learning and innovation, building community through expanded engagement, and increasing programming for youth and families are key priorities of our Strategic Plan,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “Arts Alive will help us deliver on these important goals.”

"As a professional artist and educator, I know first-hand the value of the arts as a tool for education, inspiration and empowerment,” theatre artist and educator Omari Newton said. “The arts have a way of taking complex information and framing it in ways that are engaging, entertaining and accessible. With Arts Alive, the NAC has provided an incredible platform that serves as a bridge between some of our nation's most innovative artists and youth who may not have been able to access the talent in our country otherwise. As an Arts Alive teaching artist, I am honoured to engage with a diverse array of young people who are eager to learn, create and grow. Every young person in our country should have equal access to a performing arts education.”

The National Arts Centre originally created Arts Alive as an arts education website in 2001. Since that time, it won multiple awards, and its free education resources, including NAC-created study guides, teacher resource kits, archival collections, and other materials, were downloaded more than 1 million times a year.  Now, 20 years later, Arts Alive is completely renewed for the digital age, with new and engaging performances, programming and resources; digital and in-person workshops led by diverse Canadian and Indigenous teaching artists from across the country; and a wide range of free content, making arts learning even more accessible to everyone.


Arts Alive content is organized in five sections – School and Home Learning, Family and Youth Programming, Arts Resources, Pre-Professional Artists, and Adult Learning. Each is rich in engaging content. For the full offering, please visit the website.

School and Home Learning

The School and Home Learning section helps students (pre-school to post-secondary),teachers and parents of home-schooled children bring the performing arts alive. Arts Alive offers digital and in-person workshops, live and pre-recorded performances, artist residencies and professional development opportunities. Many workshops connect the performing arts to some of the most urgent questions of today.

Examples include:

Creating a Story Through Sound, led by Emily Marie Séguin
The Medicine of Hoop Dance, led by the internationally award-winning hoop dance champion Alex Wells
In Orbit in the Philosphere, led by educational consultant Stéphanie Boyer
Creating a Theatrical Time Capsule, led by Ottawa theatre artist Kristina Watt
Hip-Hop Theatre: Unlocking your Creative Mind through Beats and Rhymes, led by Vancouver-based actor, writer, director and producer Omari Newton
Virtual Musical Adventures: Workshops and Concerts for Students and Teachers presented in association with Jeunesses Musicales Canada
Virtual Instrumental Workshops with NAC Orchestra musicians
Music Circle: Virtual workshop series for students with exceptionalities, led by NAC Orchestra French Horn Liz Simpson, and Dr. Erin Parkes, founder and director of the Lotus Centre
Songwriting Tips and Tricks, led by musician and educator YAO
Creating a Rap Song, led by the Saskatoon-based poet, educator, community engagement consultant, author, filmmaker and social entrepreneur Zoey Roy
Honouring First Nations in the Music Classroom — Appropriation, Resources and Approaching Community, a virtual professional development workshop for teachers, led by cross-cultural teaching artists Sherryl Sewepagaham and Samantha Whelan Kotkas
Act Now: Inspiring Climate Action through the Arts, led by PEI-based musician, educator, and freelance creative Ryan Elliot
From the Ground Up: Mapping Community through Music and Visual Arts, led by Ottawa teaching artist and loop pedal violist, composer and arranger Kathryn Patricia Cobbler
When Women Play: Celebrating Women in Classical Music, Yesterday and Today led by Samantha Whelan-Kotkas, professional trumpet player, teaching artist, storyteller and award-winning children’s book producer from Calgary
Career Exploration in Arts Administration, led by staff of the National Arts Centre

Family and Youth Programming

Family and Youth Programming includes in-person and on-demand family performances in music, theatre and dance, and a wide variety of digital resources.

Examples include:

French Theatre’s Enfance/jeunesse 2021-2022 season — five in-person performances for ages 0 to 14, a series of shows for youth that will blow your mind, a workshop-performance in hidden public spaces, and a cosmic bingo to open the season
Kinderconcerts (in-person concerts) in association with Jeunesses Musicales Canada and MASC
Virtual Musical Adventures for Young Audiences in association with Jeunesses Musicales Canada
Mon petit théâtre d’art, a video series about the artist Paul Klee, led by the theatre and visual artist Sylvie Gosselin
Hip-Hop Beat Production, a video series led by Winnipeg DJ and producer Boogey the Beat
Your Lens, My Eyes, a video series led by the singer-songwriter Susan Aglukark, who explores her roots and expresses her newfound understanding of her ancestors and identity through visual art, poetry, and music
Indigenous Language Colouring Pages, showcasing a variety of words from Indigenous communities across Turtle Island, accompanied by artwork created by Indigenous artists from the regions where these languages are spoken
AIRSessions, a free music workshop series for youth aged 13 to 25 curated by Ila Barker, a Manitoba singer-songwriter

Arts Resources

The Resources section of Arts Alive includes free performing arts resources for teachers, students, families and the public, including curriculum guides, podcasts, videos, articles and more.

Examples include:

Cross-cultural, Indigenous arts and classical music resources for schools, including lesson plans, videos, and audio tracks from the Music Alive Program
Invoking the Imagination: Connection, Inspiration, and Learning, a video series on strategies for arts-based learning, led by Samantha Whelan Kotkas
Ersatz, an off-the-road web experience featuring creative projects, videos, multiple resources and learning tools
A video series on the four foundational elements of dance led by dancer, choreographer and educator Allison Carrier
Videos from Grand Acts of Theatre and Grand Acts of Great Hope – new works by some of Canada’s most ingenious theatre artists
Songwriting video series with singer-songwriter Ila Barker (English) and artist Andrina Turenne (French)
Mi’kmaq music and dance videos for the classroom, led by Julie Pellissier-Lush and Richard Lush
Soundpainting with freelance dancer, choreographer and soundpainter Ceren Oran
Indigenous Language Greeting video series, which will shed light on the different protocols surrounding greetings in various Indigenous communities, the importance of language revitalization, and a demonstration of how to introduce yourself in a variety of Indigenous languages
Conducting 101, a video series by NAC Orchestra Music Director Alexander Shelley

Pre-Professional Artists

For young people aspiring to become professional artists, the Pre-Professional Artists section includes opportunities to work in specialized programs that provide first-hand training, mentorship and career guidance in the performing arts.

Examples include:

Webinars and mentorship sessions featuring renowned artists in dance, theatre and music offered throughout the calendar year on a range of topics
The Institute for Orchestral Studies for pre-professional orchestral musicians
The NAC Orchestra Bursary Competition for the classical musicians of tomorrow
Coffee with a Choreographer, which provide unique opportunities to exchange ideas with a renowned choreographer

Adult Learning

The Adult Learning section allows adults to expand their knowledge, ignite their creativity, and dive deeply into the world of arts and ideas through a wide range of learning programs and resources.

Examples include:

Our Stories Indigenous Book Club, featuring books by Indigenous authors across many genres
Podcasts about music, theatre and dance featuring the NAC artistic leadership team, guest artists and scholars
Video series featuring artists in music, theatre, dance and the culinary arts from across Canada


Since 2006, the Music Alive Program has worked to empower schools and communities in rural, Indigenous and underserved communities in northern, western and Atlantic Canada through the arts. For more information on the program and opportunities to have the Music Alive Program in your community, please visit the program’s web page.  


Arts Alive is delighted to announce the Learning and Engagement Advisory Panel (LEAP), which will bring together arts educators and teaching artists across Canada to discuss current issues, and to consult on NAC programming in learning and engagement. For more information, please contact


The National Arts Centre is Canada’s bilingual, multi-disciplinary home for the performing arts. The NAC presents, creates, produces, and co-produces performing arts programming in various streams — the NAC Orchestra, Dance, English Theatre in collaboration with Black Theatre Workshop, French Theatre, Indigenous Theatre, and Popular Music and Variety — and nurtures the next generation of audiences and artists from across Canada. The NAC is located in the National Capital Region on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe.


Learning and Engagement at Canada’s National Arts Centre is made possible through the support of many generous individuals and organizations from across the country. The Music Alive Program is made possible thanks to the leadership support of National Partner, The Azrieli Foundation, and Major Supporters, The Slaight Family Foundation and TD Bank Group. Thank you also to Grant and Alice Burton, VIA Rail, Canada Life, A Donor-Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Ottawa, Donors to the NAC Foundation's Future Fund, The Janice and Earle O’Born Fund for Artistic Excellence, and the donors and sponsors of the NAC’s National Youth and Education Trust, the primary resource for youth and education funding at the National Arts Centre.

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Mary Gordon
Senior Advisor, Corporate Communications
National Arts Centre