Community at the Centre: Amelita Armit

Woman stands smiling in front of the doors to the NAC’s Le Salon
Amelita Armit © Catherine Wilkie
Seven dancers stand side-by-side with arms outstretched on stage.
Cast of Prison Dancer on stage at the NAC, December 2023. © Dahlia Katz

Amelita Armit has built a life dedicated to experiencing and supporting the community around her.

A former Albertan, Amelita was first introduced to the NAC in the 1970s when she traveled to Ottawa for a conference. Her late husband, Robert, who was an enthusiast in the performing arts scene and had been to the NAC before, urged her to visit.

Amelita’s first NAC experience was unforgettable—she bought standing-room-only tickets for a performance by the National Ballet of Canada, starring Karen Kain.

Standing at the back of the NAC's Southam Hall, Amelita was mesmerized by the grace and beauty of the dancers, the buzz of the overflow crowd, and the hall’s grandeur. When she and Robert moved to Ottawa in 1987, they became loyal subscribers to the NAC, attending a variety of performances from dance to theatre to orchestral concerts.

After Robert passed away 15 years ago, Amelita continued to attend shows, finding joy in the performances she loves. “I have seen the NAC change a lot over the decades,” Amelita shares. “Art is an expression of the times, and the NAC reflects the world.”

Amelita particularly enjoys the “eye-opening” performances by younger generations, finding them thought-provoking and a contrast to the classical performances she is familiar with.

Last winter, one performance brought Amelita’s artistic and cultural circles together. A proud Filipino Canadian, Amelita promoted the Filipino musical Prison Dancer to her community. For some of the 20 people who bought tickets, it was their first time attending the NAC.

Amelita's interest in the production led to a wonderful collaboration between the Philippine Centre of Canada and the NAC at the end of Prison Dancer’s run. Together, in partnership with the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa, they hosted a festive holiday market celebrating Filipino culture. “It was an event that brought together people from all walks of life, highlighting the beauty of diversity and multiculturalism,” says Amelita, “It was a moment of pride and joy, seeing my culture showcased and appreciated on a national stage.”

When Filipino-Canadian Nina Lee Aquino was appointed as the new Artistic Director of English Theatre in 2022, Amelita was “over-excited”. She was already familiar with Nina through her work at Factory Theatre in Toronto. 

Amelita admires Nina's talent and dedication to bringing new and diverse voices to the stage, expanding audience horizons, and challenging their perceptions. It is a step towards a more inclusive and representative national arts community, one that Amelita hopes will continue to grow and thrive.

As Amelita reflects on her journey with the NAC, she feels grateful for the experiences and connections she has made. The NAC has been more than just a venue for performances—it is a hub of culture, community, and creativity. It is a place where people can come together, celebrate their differences, and find common ground through the power of art. And for Amelita, that is what truly makes the NAC special—the way it brings people together, transcending boundaries and building bridges that connect us all.

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