NAC Unveils $25 Million Fundraising Campaign & $5 Million Gift by Gail Asper

Gail Asper

Gail Asper

Photo:John Johnston

The National Arts Centre (NAC) today launched a transformative $25 million fundraising campaign to support the creation of new works of Music, Theatre and Dance in collaboration with artists and arts organizations across the country. The campaign is the first-ever in the history of the 47 year-old institution.

 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.

The NAC also announced the lead gift to the campaign: a $5 million gift by Gail Asper, Winnipeg business woman and philanthropist, as well as a long-time friend, supporter and volunteer of the NAC. It is the largest single donation in the NAC’s history.

The gift by Gail Asper, who is currently Chair of the NAC Foundation Board of Directors, brings the NAC creation campaign’s total-to-date to $23 million, which will be used to invest in new works in theatre, music and dance through the NAC and its partnerships with artists and arts organizations across Canada.

“Quite simply, our goal was to secure support from Canadians that will transform the way art can be created for Canadian stages,” said Peter Herrndorf, NAC President and CEO. “Gail Asper’s extraordinary generosity as the lead donor to our creation campaign will allow the NAC to play a larger role in supporting bold, innovative and ambitious works for stages in Canada and around the world. Through major gifts from philanthropists and corporate donors, we believe the National Arts Centre will pave the way for a new model in creation in this country.  We’re confident that the NAC Foundation will not only reach its $25 million fundraising goal, but surpass it.”

“I am so pleased to be able to make this gift to support Canadian creators and the NAC,” said Gail Asper. “As Chair of the NAC Foundation I have seen first-hand the impact the NAC has on the performing arts in Canada. I was inspired by the goal of the NAC’s creation campaign – to help ensure that artists and arts organizations would have access to more investment capital for their projects. I love the idea of supporting more Canadian works for stages at home and around the world.”

 Details of the new funding model will be released in the coming months, however the NAC is committed to begin investing in new works of Music, Dance and Theatre by 2017, to mark Canada’s 150th Anniversary. The Creation Campaign is taking place at the same time the National Arts Centre is undergoing a major architectural rejuvenation which will be open to the public on Canada Day in 2017.

 “This campaign is the NAC’s 2017 gift to artists across the country,” said Jayne Watson, CEO of the NAC Foundation. “Donors have responded with incredible generosity to our vision to invest in Canadian artists and their work. In addition to thanking Gail Asper, I’d like to also acknowledge the wonderful contribution of Gail O’Brien who is serving as the NAC Creation Campaign’s chair. We are delighted that on the cusp of Canada’s 150th ...and just a couple of years before the NAC’s 50th anniversary... that donors are making a major investment in the development of a new canon of Canadian stories.”


Earlier this year, Gail O’Brien and her husband David made an extraordinary gift of $1.5 million to the NAC in support of Canadian creation.

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NAC Foundation / Fondation du CNA