The New NAC: More National Than Ever

Peter Herrndorf, NAC President and CEO © Roy Grogan
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Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show © Valérie Remise
Tartuffe © Richard Blenkinsopp
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Kevin Loring, Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre

National Arts Centre President and CEO Peter Herrndorf recently announced that he would step down in June 2018. Over the past 18 years, Herrndorf has put the “national” back in the National Arts Centre.

This transformation culminated in 2017 with three different NAC tours. “I can’t ever remember that happening,” said Herrndorf. This fall, English Theatre’s Tartuffe travelled through Newfoundland. The Orchestra is up North after touring Western Canada and French Theatre’s Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show is moving across the centre of the country.

This past summer, more than 1,000 artists from across the country took part in the six-week Canada Scene festival. Another highlight: the NAC is “up to our ears in music education” in Nunavut, and in Western and Atlantic Canada.”

Putting an exclamation mark on this national focus will be the animation of the Kipnes Lantern on New Year’s Eve. Herrndorf said it will be the jewel in the crown of the rejuvenated NAC. “We hope we will be able to give a flavour of what is happening (on stages across the country) on that LED screen. It will be a visual representation of the NAC’s role as Canada’s national stage.”

The Centre has also raised $25 million to underpin the National Creation Fund that opened for business on November 1. Under the leadership of Heather Moore, Herrndorf said he hopes the fund “will be a game changer for creation,” providing venture capital to artists and organizations all over Canada. “My hope is that in the coming years the results are being showcased in various parts of the world.” And with the establishment of the Indigenous Theatre Department and hiring of artistic director Kevin Loring, “we will have three national theatres that will reflect the country we have in 2019.”

Finally, one of Herrndorf ’s proudest achievements is the rejuvenation of the building, which has led to a new relationship with the public. “The new NAC is now a meeting place for the public as well as a performing space for the artist… a new, open, inclusive place where you don’t need a ticket or a reservation. You just have to walk through the front door. People in Ottawa and across Canada need to feel this place belongs to them and that they’re proud of it.”

Prélude magazine – The News
Holiday 2017

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