After a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the NAC Gala is back on Saturday, November 5. Since the early 1990s, the NAC Gala has raised funds to help support the performing arts in Canada. For this 24th edition, the NAC’s signature fundraising event celebrates the importance of women leaders in the performing arts. One of those women is Adrian Burns, Chair of the NAC’S Board of Trustees, whose mandate comes to an end in December. The evening will pay tribute to her leadership as a trailblazer in governance and volunteer leadership in the arts for more than 20 years. Passionate about the arts, she was at the heart of the first NAC Gala in the early 90s.
Proceeds from the iconic social event will be directed to The Adrian Burns Fund for Women Leaders in the Performing Arts, a new fund that will help create new opportunities for professional skills development in the performing arts for women.
“There are countless fabulous women who work tirelessly for the arts in Canada. That is reason to celebrate!” said Adrian Burns.
The Gala will begin with the traditional red carpet and a pre-concert reception while a deejay mixes beats.
The crème de la crème
Jann Arden will headline the concert, performing with the NAC Orchestra in Southam Hall. How do we introduce the Canadian legend? Singer, songwriter, actress (JANN), broadcaster, podcast host (The Jann Arden Podcast), and author of five books, Jann Arden has taken the world by storm for almost three decades. Her numerous awards include eight JUNO Awards and ten SOCAN Awards -, Arden is a beloved Canadian musical artist and personality. She has released 17 albums and achieved 19 top 10 singles and in 2020, she was announced as an inductee into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
“It’s never been more important to support each other, and further to that, inspire the young women who are coming up behind us. We have a responsibility to shine a light on important issues and be strong and steadfast in our chosen professions,” said Jann Arden.
On stage, Jann Arden will be accompanied by her team of musicians and the NAC Orchestra conducted by Elizabeth Baird, who is thrilled to be back at the NAC with Jann Arden, having previously conducted Jann’s The Magic of Christmas in Ottawa and at Toronto’s Massey Hall.
The Canadian conductor has worked extensively across theatre, television and film. A four-time Dora Mavor Moore Award nominee for Outstanding Musical Direction, theatre credits include the Mirvish Productions of & Juliet, Dear Evan Hansen, Kinky Boots, Mamma Mia! and the Dancap production of Jersey Boys. Television credits include Music Consultant for So You Think You Can Dance Canada and Musical Director/Composer for multiple television series and specials.
“I’m proud of the accomplishments that I have achieved in my career as a Music Director and Conductor and I feel it’s so important to share my knowledge and experience through mentorship with other women aspiring to do the same,” said Baird.
“It’s never been more important to support each other, and further to that, inspire the young women who are coming up behind us. We have a responsibility to shine a light on important issues and be strong and steadfast in our chosen professions.”
The musical program for the NAC Gala has been meticulously planned. Cosette Justo Valdés will conduct the NAC Orchestra to open the evening’s performance. The Cuban-born and raised conductor is currently Resident Conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. With her passionate style and firecracker energy, Cosette Justo Valdés is a rising star on the world’s concert stage.
“We need more consistency and presence of women in leadership positions. One day, we won’t have to talk about it anymore, but for now, we need to advocate for it,” said Cosette Justo Valdés.
The art of gastronomy
The NAC Gala is not only about music and dance, but the art of gastronomy. Chef Jenni Lessard, Indigenous culinary consultant for Wanuskewin Heritage Park (Saskatchewan), and a resident Chef at the NAC’s 1 Elgin restaurant, collaborated on the VIP dinner to be served on the Southam Hall Stage. Guests will enjoy a tasty menu in which chef Lessard honours her Métis heritage and the land, as she does in all her recipes.
“I love incorporating as many elements of my Métis heritage into my cooking as possible, and am beyond excited to extend this to a wider audience through the menu for the NAC Gala,” Chef Lessard said.
“We need more consistency and presence of women in leadership positions. One day, we won’t have to talk about it anymore, but for now, we need to advocate for it.”
Cosette Justo Valdés, conductor
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The National Arts Centre Foundation wishes to thank our Lead Donors, Bonnie & John Buhler, our Associate Sponsors, RBC Royal Bank and Meta, and the many other donors and corporate sponsors that have helped make this Gala possible. Their investment supports the NAC’s commitment to fostering the creativity of women in all regions across Canada.