“Canada’s Secret Source of Funding”

Darkest dark info
The Darkest Dark © Young People’s Theatre.

This one goes out in honour of the memory of Peter Herrndorf. Peter passed away on Saturday February 18th, and is survived by his family and thousands upon thousands who were lucky to have known him. The National Creation Fund was established under his watchful eye, and every success the Fund has participated in is owed to Peter’s vision for the culture of this land. We continue our work knowing how important it was to him that we do. 

We are six years old. When we started, we thought we would only see five. And now the National Creation Fund (NCF) is looking ahead to seven. I think our most important job at the NCF is to love the heck out of the work we invest in. It is a great job to have to do. 

Here’s some great news - Qaumma, created by Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Vinnie Karatek, is our most recent investment. Look for this mesmerising piece about the impacts of climate change on Northern Life when it plays in a beautiful Canadian city in June. In other great news, Montreal-based artist Sylvia Cloutier has agreed to join our curatorial team and Winnipeg-based artist Debbie Patterson has agreed to join our National Advisory Committee.

Earlier in February, Chris Dearlove and I were in Vancouver to see Mark Sakamoto’s Forgiveness, adapted for the stage by Hiro Kanagawa. The week before, joined by our most excellent triangulator, Sarah Conn, we were in Toronto to see Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald and adapted for the stage in co-creation between Hannah Moscovitch and Alisa Palmer. In Ottawa, at the NAC we were there for Barbara Diabo’s Sky Dancers. More recently we were in Quebec City at Le Diamant to revisit Kid Koala's The Storyville Mosquito. Not quite coast to coast, but next up is a trip to the moon for the history-making – in every way – The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield and Kat Fillion, adapted for the stage by Jim Millan and Ian McIntyre.

The National Creation Fund was recently referred to as "Canada's secret source of funding" in an article written by Kelly Nestruck in The Globe and Mail… I would prefer to let that secret out of the bag. I would prefer to allow it to ricochet through the reverberate hills. I guess it’s why I feel compelled to quote twice from the Globe. Because I share the writer's sentiment when he says: "I hope the NAC finds a way to make the Fund permanent - as it is really helping the Ottawa-based National Arts Centre live up to the ‘national’ in its name." I too hope for this. 

We are a many nation-ed land. 50 plus nations, 10 provinces, three territories, countless communities, and cities. Considering this… a National Arts Centre is a strange and imaginary place. You might say it holds an idea for a land that has never existed. This has never NOT been true, but as energies change and communities rise, as reparations are made, this is even less true now. The idea for a “Canada” that initially gave us the National Arts Centre is an OLD IDEA. And many would say that it's an idea that hasn't aged well. But… to imagine a house that holds a multitude of nations? An arts centre for the meeting place of many nations? Now that makes sense! This is the way I refer to the NAC when I place it in my mind, when I walk through its hallways. It is alive with all manner of activity. The person who parked and just wants to get to the canal. The kid who is finishing up an assignment for social studies class and has heard about the great light, comfy chairs and strong WiFi. The coffee aficionado. The noon o’clock stroller who wonders what might be on in the open stage, the chief, the maestro, the cook, the cleaner, the director, the engineer, the social justice warrior, the journalist, the newborn, the parliamentarian, the tourist, the cold, the weary, the artist, the dreamer. 

As the Fund connects the creative dots from coast to coast to coast, I see our potential to be a major artery for the massive beating heart of Canadian performance. Thankfully there are many arteries, aligned by a shared understanding of the power of creation. We do not do this work alone. We collaborate with artists and with organizations. And we would like to do more of that. The National Creation Fund is a proud member in a contingent of people and institutions who see the benefit, the necessity for fuelling creation. But the NAC is also a centre, a gathering place, and so, in light of this, I place what we do at the centre of the creation conversation. We aim at the NCF to respond to this idea with all of our work. Centering creation in the multi-faceted community of Canada. 

And if you want to see what I mean about impact… please join me at The Darkest Dark (February 23 to April 2) at YPT in Toronto. Chris Hadfield went to space. Because of his work and the artists he has worked with, kids of all ages get to think about the dark. What frightens us? Why? Sometimes it takes an astronaut to really land a conversation.

Or at your favourite Arts Centre in Ottawa? Scott Jones and Robert Chafe's I Forgive You is on at the NAC from March 1 to 11. This extraordinary piece set to the music of Sigur Rós takes a deep look at the cost of forgiveness in the face of a horrific life-altering event. What does forgiveness mean? Performed by two actors, Scott Jones and a youth choir, this piece asks us to laugh, cry and lean into the frailty of our existence. 

Or if in Montreal, check out Si vous voulez de la lumière from March 1 to 11 at Théâtre Prospero and dive into a reinvention of Faust, and the world as we know it! 

In Halifax now? Or heading to London, Ontario? Or still in Ottawa? How about Ann-Marie MacDonald's incredible Fall On Your Knees. Globe and Mail's Critics Pick from its opening performances in Toronto. Truly an historic event you won't want to have missed! 

And if you have stories to share about Peter Herrndorf we would really love to hear them. 

Thanks for reading, we really appreciate your interest.


Our latest investment: Qaumma by Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory and Vinnie Karetak

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