National Arts Centre Annual Report Canadian Creativity details a highly successful year on behalf of artists, audiences and communities across Canada

Ottawa (Canada)—The 2011–2012 Annual Report of the National Arts Centre (NAC), tabled in Parliament last week, indicated that more than 1.1 million patrons took part in performances, events and commercial activities during the NAC’s 2011–2012 season. Total 2011–2012 box office for NAC programming (subscription and ticket sales) was $10,083,482 — an increase of almost 9 per cent over the previous year. The NAC ended the fiscal year with a $31,000 accumulated surplus. Donors and corporate partners helped the National Arts Centre Foundation raise more than $6.1 million in 2011–2012 to support performance, creation and learning across Canada.

The year was marked by many artistic successes that highlight the NAC’s role in communities across Canada:

  • The NAC Orchestra’s Atlantic Canada Tour, which featured the young Calgary pianist  Jan Lisiecki as featured soloist and Toronto’s Julian Kuerti as guest conductor, reached 10,000 Atlantic Canadians. The Tour included nine concerts and more than 80 education events, and the world premiere of Brio: Toccata and Fantasy for Orchestra by Edmonton composer John Estacio, opened concerts in three Atlantic provinces;


  • In September, through a unique theatre research initiative called The Ark: Ibsen on Fogo Island, 11 National Theatre School students, 12 professional actors and 12 other artists and scholars assembled in the remote community of Fogo Island, Newfoundland and Labrador to explore the work of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen. At the same time, on Canada’s west coast the English Theatre resident company was rehearsing for the English language premiere of And Slowly Beauty... by Michel Nadeau — an NAC-commissioned translation by Maureen Labonté, and an NAC co-production with Victoria’s Belfry Theatre, directed by its Artistic Director Michael Shamata. It was the first time in the NAC’s history that English Theatre was involved in major creative projects on both the East and West Coast simultaneously;


  • English Theatre Artistic Director Peter Hinton directed an all-Aboriginal production of King Lear, featuring the renowned actor August Schellenberg in the title role, as well as Billy Merasty, Tantoo Cardinal and Kevin Loring in the cast of 40 performers. Opening Night attracted Aboriginal leaders and artists from across the country;


  • English Theatre’s 2011–12 season enjoyed the largest single ticket sale in English Theatre’s 43-year history. The season included the smash hit holiday musical Oliver! directed by Dayna Tekatch, the highest grossing and most attended production in NAC English Theatre history; Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt’s farewell tour of 2 Pianos 4 Hands; Sandra Shamas’ special presentation of Wit’s End III: Love Life; and closing with the all-Aboriginal production of King Lear.  The strong audience response was a testament to Peter Hinton in his last season as Artistic Director after seven highly successful years;


  • The 15th annual National Arts Centre Gala featuring Sarah McLachlan raised more than $621,000 (net) for the National Arts Centre’s National Youth and Education Trust, which funds world-class training and programming for young artists and young audiences across Canada;


  • Extensive music education initiatives in Pangnirtung, Rankin Inlet and Igloolik, Nunavut took place through the NAC’s Music Alive Program: Nunavut, which has now touched over 5,000 Canadians;


  • More than 2.5 million educational resource materials, including study guides, teacher resource kits and other NAC-created materials were downloaded from the NAC’s arts and education website by teachers, students and arts enthusiasts across Canada and around the world;


  • French Theatre Artistic Director Wajdi Mouawad directed Des Femmes, the controversial first installment of the Sophocles Project that will see Wajdi direct all seven of his tragedies in Mons, Belgium in 2015;


  • Stunning performances by two of the world’s most celebrated dance companies took place at the NAC: the Canadian exclusive performance of Danzón by Tanztheater Pina Bausch, and the Bolshoi Ballet’s signature performance of Don Quixote;


  • The NAC launched the highly successful inaugural season of NAC Presents in partnership with BMO Financial Group. The all-new, all-Canadian programming stream showcases the most exciting emerging and established artists in contemporary music today, and is generously supported by the Slaight Family Foundation.


The NAC posted an accumulated $31,000 surplus in 2011-2012, and in spite of a difficult economy, Canada’s National Arts Centre received essential support from donors, corporate partners and foundations from coast-to-coast-to-coast, raising more than $6.1 million to support performance, creation and learning across Canada. The success of the NAC Foundation continues to grow under the leadership of Jayne Watson, the CEO of the NAC Foundation and Chair, Gail O’Brien.

In her Annual Report message, Board Chair Julia Foster also credited the leadership of NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf, “the driving force behind the effort to foster creation across the country during his extraordinary 13-year tenure.”

“We are very lucky to have a leader and artistic team who understand how to foster artistic freedom—to give artists the space, time and financial capacity to focus on creating new work for the national and international stage. I thank him, our tireless NAC Foundation Board Chair Gail O’Brien, and our volunteer Board of Trustees and Foundation Board from across the country for their leadership and dedication to build a more creative Canada.”

The Board of Trustees of the NAC recently announced that Mr. Herrndorf has agreed to extend his contract for two more years through to September 2014. In his Annual Report message, Mr. Herrndorf said the arts are Canada’s greatest source of pride.

“At the National Arts Centre, we’ve been saying for years that Canada’s artists are this country’s most important export product,” he said.  “More than anyone else, it is our artists who illustrate the true nature of Canada as a dynamic and diverse country of remarkable creativity.”

The NAC continued to fulfill its strategic goals of fostering artistic excellence, expanding its national reach, promoting arts education, increasing earned revenues, and building a strong relationship with its audience.

The annual budget of the National Arts Centre is more than $70 million dollars. Historically about half comes from self-generated revenues (including NAC programming, fundraising and commercial activities), while the other half comes from an annual parliamentary appropriation.


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