Highlights of an Extraordinary and Historic Year at Canada's National Arts Centre

In the midst of Canada’s 150th year, the National Arts Centre had one of the most successful years in its 48-year history.

Here are some of the highlights of 2017:

1) The appointment of Kevin Loring as the NAC’s first-ever Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre

Kevin Loring is a Nlaka’pamux from the Lytton First Nation in B.C., a Governor General’s Award-winning playwright, and a highly respected actor and director. The standing-room only announcement on June 15 was attended by artists and leaders from the Indigenous and Canadian theatre communities, and was cheered by the Indigenous artistic community across Canada;

2) The opening of the new NAC building on Canada Day and the re-opening of the Fourth Stage in the fall

On Canada Day, 2017, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, a number of dignitaries, and 150 donors, staff, subscribers and NAC friends cut the ribbon to unveil the first phase of the NAC’s Architectural Rejuvenation Project. In the fall, we re-opened the Fourth Stage to reveal a stage re-oriented to face the city, improvements in lighting and sound, a new bar and seating, and better backstage amenities for artists;

3) The remarkable collaboration between NAC Dance, the NAC Orchestra, three Canadian choreographers and three Canadian composers that culminated in ENCOUNT3RS

The landmark co-commission spearheaded by Cathy Levy and Alexander Shelley paired three Canadian composers and three Canadian choreographers to create three new ballets. The works were performed in Southam Hall from April 20 to 22 by BC Ballet, Alberta Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada, with music performed by the NAC Orchestra.

4) Canada Scene, with the co-production of Louis Riel opening the six-week festival

From June 15 to July 23, Canada Scene presented 1,500 artists from across Canada in more than 150 events. Led by Producer and Executive Director Heather Moore, the festival opened with Peter Hinton’s innovative production of the Harry Somers opera Louis Riel, co-produced with the Canadian Opera Company;

5) The successful completion of the $25 million Creation Campaign (including two $5 million gifts), and the opening of the National Creation Fund on November 1

The Creation Campaign, headed by NAC Foundation CEO Jayne Watson, raised more than $25 million from donors across Canada. It included a $5 million gift from Gail Asper and Michael Paterson of Winnipeg, followed by another $5 million gift from Dr. Dianne Kipnes and Irving Kipnes of Edmonton that was directed to the Campaign and to the Kipnes Lantern. The National Creation Fund, led by Artistic Producer Heather Moore, will invest up to $3 million a year in 15 to 20 ambitious new Canadian works from artists and arts organizations across the country;

6) The NAC Orchestra’s Canada 150 Tour across Canada, which included concerts and hundreds of education events from St. John’s to Iqaluit

The NAC’s Orchestra national tour was the first by Alexander Shelley, and featured guest artists Jan Lisiecki and James Ehnes. In addition to classical masterworks, the Orchestra also performed Life Reflected, of which I Lost My Talk is a part, at Toronto’s Luminato Festival, and in a number of cities in western Canada;

7) The tour of English Theatre’s production of Tartuffe to five communities in Newfoundland

In the fall of 2017, English Theatre’s 2013 production of Tartuffe adapted by Andy Jones and directed by Jillian Keiley toured to communities across Newfoundland, including St. John’s, Stephenville, Cornerbrook, Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander. The production marked the first tour for NAC English Theatre since 1998;

8) The French Theatre production and national tour of Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show

This ambitious new creation brought together some of the most gifted artists in English, French, Indigenous and Métis theatre from various parts of the country. With dramaturgy by head writers Jean Marc Dalpé, Alexis Martin and Yvette Nolan and seven other writers, the highly acclaimed show premiered at the NAC before moving to Montreal, and will tour to Winnipeg and Saskatoon in 2018;

9) The 25th anniversary Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards Gala

Led by Executive Producer Virginia Thompson, the Gala celebrated the lifetime achievement of Jean Beaudin, Brigitte Haentjens, Michael J. Fox, Martin Short and Yves Sioui Durand. William H. Loewen was honoured with the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts, and Michael Bublé received the National Arts Centre Award. CBC/ICI Radio-Canada streamed the show live, and produced two one-hour specials in English and French with a combined reach of more than 1.4 million viewers;

10) The launch of NAC Presents Across Canada

Heather Gibson’s NAC Presents Across Canada is an unprecedented collaboration with partner organizations across Canada in support of the Canadian music scene. The initiative will help support nearly 40 concerts in 10 cities across Canada in 2017‒2018 to help build the careers of emerging Canadian musicians;

11) Completing the funding for the NAC Orchestra’s 2019 European Tour

The NAC Foundation has secured private sector funding for a major performance and education tour to Europe by the NAC Orchestra that will mark the NAC’s 50th anniversary in 2019 – nearly two years in advance of the tour;

12) The appointment of Kenton Leier as the NAC’s new Executive Chef.

The NAC announced the appointment of the highly respected, award-winning Kenton Leier as its new Executive Chef in the summer. He has arrived at a time of renewal for the NAC’s Food and Beverage department, with the addition of the NAC’s beautiful new catering spaces;

13) The lighting of the Kipnes Lantern on New Year’s Eve

The signature element of the NAC’s $110.5 million Architectural Rejuvenation Project will showcase the breadth and excellence of the performing arts at the NAC, and by partner organizations all across Canada. Guided by the NAC’s Bridget Mooney and Chris Dearlove, the Lantern features cutting-edge technology, the largest transparent LED screen in North America, and stunning content by Montreal’s renowned Moment Factory studio.


Carl Martin
Director of Communications (Acting)
National Arts Centre
613 947-7000 x560


Join our email list for the latest updates!