National Arts Centre

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National Arts Centre
National Arts Centre Logo.svg
Capacity2,064 (Southam Hall)
Opened1966 (55 years ago)

The National Arts Centre (NAC) (French: Centre national des Arts) is a performing arts organisation in Ottawa, Ontario, along the Rideau Canal. It is based in the eponymous National Arts Centre building.[1][2]


The NAC was one of a number of projects launched by the government of Lester B. Pearson to commemorate Canada's 1967 centenary. It opened its doors to the public for the first time on 31 May 1969, at a cost of C$46 million.[3]

In February 2014, the centre unveiled a new logo and slogan, Canada is our stage, in preparation for its fiftieth anniversary in 2019. The former logo had been designed by Ernst Roch and was in use since the centre's opening.[4]

In October 2015, initial talks about plans to develop an Indigenous theatre were held between NAC leadership, Indigenous performers and community leaders from across Canada with the aim of making Indigenous theatre a core activity of the National Arts Centre.[5] In June 2017, Kevin Loring was hired to be the first artistic director of the NAC Indigenous Theatre department, and Lori Marchard was appointed the first managing director of the department soon after. Along with Lindsay Lachance, an artistic associate as well, the Indigenous Theatre department works to increase the representation of Indigenous peoples through theatre and providing further space and resources for Indigenous actors and playwrights to thrive. To date, over $1 million was raised for the establishment of the Indigenous theatre department through a tribute dinner hosted by the NAC in June 2018.[6] The first full season by the Indigenous theatre department commenced in fall 2019.[5]



The NAC Orchestra is a world class ensemble of outstanding classical musicians from across Canada and around the world, under the inspiring leadership of Music Director Alexander Shelley. Since its debut in 1969 at the opening of Canada’s National Arts Centre, the Orchestra has been praised for the passion and clarity of its performances, its groundbreaking educational programs, and its leadership in nurturing Canadian creativity.

Indigenous Theatre[edit]

Kevin Loring is the current director of the Indigenous Theatre. Loring is Nlaka’pamux from Lytton BC a small town in the Fraser Canyon and was born November 24, 1974 (43). His first published play “Where The Blood Mixes” won the Governor General's Award for English- Language Drama in 2009. He graduated from Studio 58, Langara College’s professional theatre program and is the Artistic Director of The Savage Society. Loring has been in acting and writing since 2003 and has participated in many plays whether it be acting or directing. Other notable works that he has written are Thanks for Giving (Arts Club Theatre Company) and The Pipeline Project (The Savage Society). Both of which have been performed in various cities across Canada. Some works that he has acted in have included Children of God[7] a musical written by Corey Payette, TV shows Health Nutz and Mohawk Girls along with the 2007 film Pathfinder. Loring believes in helping support young artists in their work in contemporary theatre. So they can express their own present day ideas and perspectives but also keep connection to their traditions of storytelling while participating in contemporary forms of expression.[8] When asked what Indigenous theatre is he says that it is “Our stories told and performed through the lens of Indigenous people".[9]

Notable figures in the Indigenous theatre department include:

Artistic aims and performances[edit]

One of the largest performing arts facilities in Canada, the National Arts Centre displays ballets, orchestras, theatre and musical performances. At 1,158,000 sq ft (107,600 m2), the NAC works with thousands of artists, both emerging and established, from across Canada and around the world, and collaborates with dozens of other arts organizations across the country. The NAC operates in the performing arts fields of classical music, English theatre, French theatre, Indigenous theatre, dance, variety, and community programming. The NAC supports programs for young and emerging artists and programs for young audiences, and producing resources and study materials for teachers. The NAC is the only multidisciplinary, multilingual, performing arts centre in North America, and one of the largest in the world.

The National Arts Centre is home to the National Arts Centre Orchestra, considered one of the world's leading classical-size orchestras. Alexander Shelley, a conductor, pianist, cellist and teacher, has been the orchestra's music director since 2015. The artistic director of English Theatre is Jillian Keiley; the artistic director of French Theatre is Brigitte Haentjens; Cathy Levy is the executive producer of dance; Heather Moore is producer and executive director of the Scene Festivals; Heather Gibson is producer of NAC Presents. The National Arts Centre produces nine podcasts[10] in both official languages. They cover French and English Theatre, Classical and Contemporary Canadian music. The NAC has since created an Indigenous Theatre discipline. On June 15, 2017, Kevin Loring was announced as the first Artistic Director of Indigenous Theatre.

Kurt Waldele was executive chef for two decades, up to his death in 2009. His successor Michael Blackie, was responsible for creating "Celebrity Chefs of Canada" which ran in both 2011 and 2012. In late 2012 Michael left the NAC to develop his own business in Ottawa located in the west end called NeXT. In 2013, John Morris was promoted to the position executive chef. John Morris worked under chefs David Garcelon, Michael Blackie and Steven Gugelmeier. Kenton Leier was appointed as Executive Chef, effective July 26, 2017.[11]

The National Arts Centre is co-producer of the Canada Dance Festival and co-founder of the Magnetic North Theatre Festival, which it operates in partnership with the Canadian Theatre Festival Society. The Magnetic North Theatre Festival is an annual event first held in Ottawa in 2003, where it is held every second year, being held in other Canadian cities in the alternating years. The festival offers not only productions and performances for the theatre-going public, but offers workshops and seminars aimed at theatre students and professionals.

In 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada the NAC created the series Undisrupted for CBC Gem, which featured four Canadian performers or composers of classical or opera music creating a short film set to a new original composition.[12]


  1. ^ National Arts Centre, Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance of Canada
  2. ^ "National Arts Centre National Historic Site of Canada". Canada's Historic Places. 27 November 2006. Retrieved 2012-01-03.
  3. ^ Barrie, Judy. "40,000 agog but centre's debut shaky", Ottawa Citizen, June 2, 1969, p. 13
  4. ^ Adams, Jane (February 26, 2014). "National Arts Centre unveils first new logo in 45 years". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 2015-06-23.
  5. ^ a b "Information archivée dans le Web" (PDF). (in French). Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  6. ^ "NAC Foundation Raises More Than $1 million to Support the NAC's New Indigenous Theatre Department" (Press release). Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  7. ^ "Review: Children of God is must-see theatre for Canadians". Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  8. ^ "Savage Society | Mission/Mandate/Artistic Statement". Savage Production Society | Indigenous Theatre & Media. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  9. ^ "Announcement / Dévoilement: Kevin Loring, Artistic Director, Indigenous Theatre / Théâtre autochtone". National Arts Centre. 2017-06-16. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  10. ^ nine Podcasts
  11. ^ Hum, Peter (October 24, 2017). "New NAC Chef Kenton Leier brings humility and teamwork to the table". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved August 17, 2019.
  12. ^ Marsha Lederman, "National Arts Centre Orchestra’s eclectic new CBC Gem series showcases Canadian talent". The Globe and Mail, September 1, 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]