Q&A: Sarah Jennings, author, political and cultural journalist, philanthropist

Sarah Jennings

Q. The update to your 2009 book Art and Politics: the History of the National Arts Centre has new chapters covering the last decade. What changed at the NAC since the first edition?

A. There has been a greater emphasis on raising the national profile, more reliance on private fundraising and attracting larger audiences through major renovations. It may take some time to see if the new spaces attract those new patrons.

Q. What do you mean?

A. Arts centres everywhere are trying to appeal to new and younger audiences, using new physical and digital spaces. However, the live arts are at the heart of it:

there is no substitute for the real thing.

Q. How did you go about writing the book?

A. The book is the result of recorded interviews with over 200 people who lived the NAC story.

Q. What is your biggest takeaway?

A. I learned that artists are compelled to create no matter what, through good times or bad.

Q. The Jennings family recently made a donation to commission a work by acclaimed composer Philip Glass in memory to your late brother Peter, the renowned news broadcaster. The world premiere by the NAC Orchestra will take place in 2021. What is it about?

A. This work will be about truth in our times, a theme that has never been more important. Telling the truth was at the core of Peter’s work.

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