NEW BEGINNINGS: IN 2021-2022 THE NAC REUNITED ARTISTS AND AUDIENCES, AND COLLABORATED WITH PARTNERS TO SUPPORT RENEWAL OF THE PERFORMING ARTS SECTOR
Annual Public Meeting takes place today in the NAC Fourth Stage and online
February 15, 2023 – OTTAWA – The National Arts Centre’s Annual Public Meeting will take place today from 12 to 1 p.m. in the NAC Fourth Stage and online. The meeting will review the results of the NAC’s 2021–2022 season. While it included closures due to public health measures, the season featured the joyful return of in-person audiences to the National Arts Centre and Canadian venues across Canada, and collaborations with Canadian arts organizations to help lead and renew the performing arts sector.
“For the National Arts Centre, the 2021–2022 season was full of new beginnings,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “From the start of Mani Soleymanlou’s tenure as Artistic Director of French Theatre, to world premieres of Indigenous productions in cities across Canada, to the NAC Orchestra’s triumphant return to Carnegie Hall, artists and audiences reconnected with each other and with the powerful experience of the live performing arts. I thank the Government of Canada, our generous donors, and our devoted audiences for their continued support.”
The NAC’s Annual Public Meeting takes place today in the NAC Fourth Stage, and online. Speakers will include:
Verna McGregor, Algonquin Elder
Guy Pratte, Chair, NAC Board of Trustees
Christopher Deacon, NAC President and CEO
Annabelle Cloutier, Executive Director of Strategy and Communications
Individuals interested in attending the Annual Public Meeting are invited to register here. A question-and-answer period will follow the presentation. Please submit any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The webcast will be accessible in English and French and will include simultaneous sign-language interpretation in ASL and LSQ.
NEW BEGINNINGS: THE NAC’S 2020–2021 ANNUAL REPORT
The theme of the NAC’s Annual Public Meeting is echoed in the NAC’s 2021-2022 Annual Report, which was tabled in Parliament in December. Entitled New Beginnings, the report documents a year in which the NAC supported diverse Canadian artists and welcomed audiences back to the irreplaceable live and in-person experience of the performing arts. The report, publicly available on the NAC’s website, includes many highlights:
In the fall of 2021, audiences returned to the NAC to see 2042, directed by French Theatre Artistic Director Mani Soleymanlou, and Bingo Cosmique, directed by Associate Artistic Director Mélanie Dumont. Featuring 20 Ottawa-Gatineau artists who were asked to imagine what life might be like in 2042, the productions invited audiences onto the stage and into the action;
The NAC played a vital role supporting Indigenous stories and languages through world premieres in theatres across the country. Indigenous Theatre Artistic Director Kevin Loring’s Little Red Warrior and His Lawyer, co-produced with the Belfry Theatre (Victoria) and Savage Society (Vancouver) in association with NAC Indigenous Theatre, premiered at the Belfry in January 2022. The Herd by Kenneth T. Williams, a Citadel Theatre (Edmonton), Tarragon Theatre (Toronto) and Indigenous Theatre co-production, premiered at the Citadel in April 2022. And the English version of Okinum, co-produced by Onishka and Imago Theatre (Montreal), premiered at the Centaur Theatre (Montreal). The French version was presented by Indigenous Theatre and Zones Théâtrales at the NAC in September 2021;
The English Theatre/ Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre/Black Theatre Workshop co-production of Calpurnia by Audrey Dwyer opened at the NAC’s Babs Asper Theatre following a successful run in Winnipeg. Directed by Sarah Garton Stanley, the play follows its protagonist Julie as she rewrites To Kill a Mockingbird from the perspective of the Finch family’s Black maid. Black Theatre Workshop is the NAC’s Co-Curating Company in Residence;
The NAC Orchestra’s Truth in Our Time tour included the Orchestra’s first appearance at Carnegie Hall in 30 years. The concert included the U.S. premiere of Symphony No. 13 by Philip Glass, a NAC commission composed in tribute to Peter Jennings, the Canadian-American journalist and long-time anchor of ABC News. With dates at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall and at the NAC, repertoire included Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 and Korngold’s Violin Concerto — both defiant statements toward authoritarian regimes — and Canadian composer Nicole Lizée’s Zeiss After Dark. The tour featured superb Canadian guest artists, including Canadian violinists James Ehnes and Blake Pouliot, and Canadian spoken-word poet and songwriter YAO;
The NAC Dance season included 12 Canadian and two international companies. Highlights included In My Body by Gatineau street dance company Bboyizm, a work about the effects of aging on the dancing body, choreographed by Crazy Smooth; and Crypto, a cutting-edge multidisciplinary work by Côté Danse, choreographed and performed by Guillaume Côté and a stellar cast that included Greta Hodgkinson. Both In My Body and Crypto were developed with support from the NAC’s National Creation Fund and NAC Dance;
The National Creation Fund invested $1.9 million of privately raised funds in 14 ambitious new Canadian works in music, theatre, dance, and interdisciplinary performing arts. These game-changing investments provide artists with the additional time and resources required to create exceptional work for the world stage. Nineteen projects supported by the Fund premiered on stages at home and abroad, including the hit musical Tell Tale Harbour, which drew record crowds to the Charlottetown Festival, and Murmurations, the latest show from Montreal movement innovators Le Patin Libre, which was part of Théâtre de la Ville’s season in Paris. Since its inception, the National Creation Fund has invested $11.7 million in 77 ambitious new Canadian works;
The National Arts Centre partnered with Global Affairs Canada to curate the cultural programming for Expo 2020 Dubai from October 2021 to March 2022. From October 2022 to March 2023, more than 110 Canadian artists, including superstar Quebec singer-songwriter Marie-Mai, Pierre Kwenders, winner of the 2022 Polaris Prize, and a strong Indigenous delegation, performed at the world fair’s many stages in front of international audiences;
NAC Popular Music and Variety showcased brilliant and diverse Canadian music artists on the NAC’s stages, including Aysanabee, Belle Grand Fille, Beyries, Charlotte Cardin, Bruce Cockburn, Benjamin Deschamps, Desiire, Alan Doyle and Kelly Prescott, Étienne Fletcher, Céleste Lévis, Witch Prophet and many more. The season also included eight performances of Multitudes by the JUNO Award-winning artist Feist. Presented to a limited audience of 300 people per night who sat on the Southam Hall stage, the shows were a theatrical and musical representation of loneliness, isolation and coming together. Multitudes was generously supported by the National Creation Fund;
The 2022 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala returned to Southam Hall. The evening honoured an exception group of Canadian artists and arts volunteers, including Fernand Dansereau, David Foster, Tomson Highway, Crystal Pite, Linda Rabin, Rita Shelton Deverell and Michelle Smith. In addition, a bilingual TV special featuring the 2021 laureates (Tantoo Cardinal, Lynda Hamilton, Alexina Louie, Zab Maboungou, Catherine O’Hara, Ryan Reynolds and Florent Vollant) in beautiful settings across Canada was broadcast on CBC and ICI Télé (and on CBC Gem and ICI TOU.TV, generating more than 100 million views on social media;
The NAC unveiled Pangawogo Ninga Akì, meaning Heartbeat of Mother Earth, a visual land acknowledgment displayed permanently in the Canal Foyer, one of the most prominent spaces at the NAC, where hundreds of thousands of visitors come every year. Created by Algonquin artist Emily Brascoupé-Hoefler, the mixed media artwork serves as a welcome from the Algonquin People to visitors of the NAC, and encompasses aspects of Algonquin culture and tradition to welcome and extend teachings about Algonquin People and the geography of this region;
The Centre commissioned Dawn by the internationally recognized, multidisciplinary artist Rebecca Belmore, a member of Lac Seul First Nation (Anishinaabe). The work was inspired by the jingle dress, regalia worn by women and girls at pow wows. Initiated and funded by Canadian art historian Reesa Greenberg, the permanent artwork was unveiled on July 6, 2022 in the NAC’s Gail and David O’Brien Atrium;
For the first time in many years, the NAC offered a Summer Programming series, with more than 200 free and accessibly priced shows in the NAC’s performance halls, public spaces and outdoor areas. The summer series included the Tomson Highway: Kisaageetin (I love you/Je t’aime) celebration; NAC co-commissioned work from Ballets Jazz Montréal; artists like The Lionyls, Djely Tapa, OKAN, Moneka Arabic Jazz, members of the NAC Orchestra playing from a boat as it cruised down the Rideau Canal; evening performances on the NAC’s Wooden Terrace, and accessibly priced plays in the Fourth Stage, including Bois/Wood (Puzzle Théâtre) and Lessons in Temperament by James Smith. In addition, through our partnership with Broadway across Canada, Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen, and Anastasia were presented in Southam Hall. Lastly, the beloved Notre Dame de Paris returned to the NAC for a week of sold-out performances;
The NAC partnered with Toronto’s Why Not Theatre on ThisGen Fellowship. Through training, mentorship, hands-on work placements and peer-to-peer connection, the national initiative is supporting 10 IBPoC women and non-binary performing arts practitioners who are moving to the next stage of their careers;
The Centre made meaningful progress in the area of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility with the development of an EDIA strategy, an EDI employee survey, and the participation of 200 employees in anti-racism workshops;
In its efforts to become more environmentally sustainable, the NAC reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 5% from 2020–2021, and by 32% from its 2017–2018 baseline.
THE NAC IN 2022-2023
Now in the thick of its 2022–2023 season, exceptional performances in music, theatre and dance are bringing diverse artists and audiences together in the NAC’s four performance halls. This month alone includes a wide range of special programming for Black History Month; the return of the internationally renowned Wuppertal Tanztheater Pina Bausch with Palermo Palermo; the world premiere of Songs for Murdered Sisters composed by Jake Heggie with poetry by Margaret Atwood (a NAC Orchestra co-commission); the BIG BANG festival for children and families, and so much more. Please visit nac-cna.ca for ticket information, and to learn more about the NAC’s role in leading and supporting the renewal of the Canadian performing arts sector.
ABOUT THE NAC
The National Arts Centre (NAC) 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 Nation.