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National Arts Centre 2017-2018 Annual Report

Adrian Burns

Letter from
The Board Chair

Recruiting a new CEO is the most important task for the Board and its Chair in all organizations. This past year, it was the top priority as we undertook a search for the next President and CEO of the National Arts Centre. I’m very grateful to the Search Committee – an outstanding group of leaders from the NAC, from Ottawa, and from across Canada – for the care and consideration they brought to this process.

We began in November 2017 with an extensive Canadian search process that attracted many impressive candidates. We believe the person we selected is highly qualified to author the next chapter in the exciting story of this unique organization.

That person is Christopher Deacon.

Christopher was the Managing Director of the NAC Orchestra for more than two decades, a period in which the Orchestra rose to new artistic heights, resumed national and international touring and commissioned dozens of new works from Canadian composers. He has championed musical education and community engagement in Ottawa and across the country. Having led the Orchestra to become a leader in distance learning and online content, he is well equipped to take the NAC into a digital future. He introduced several initiatives to attract younger, more diverse audiences to the Orchestra, notably Casual Fridays and the WolfGANG Sessions.

Christopher also has a deep knowledge of the NAC as a whole. As lead of the Architectural Rejuvenation and Production Renewal Steering Committee, he played a key role in two of the most complex projects in our history. We are proud that we managed our budget, and re-opened our renewed building and performance halls on time, with dazzling results. We continue to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from artists and the public about “the new NAC.”

Christopher began as President and CEO at the end of our remarkable 2017–2018 season. Artistic excellence was alive on our stages, and on stages across the country. We welcomed Canadians to our beautiful new public spaces, and continued to renew our performance halls and production facilities at the highest standard. We sincerely thank the Government of Canada for their generous investment in the NAC. In addition, the National Creation Fund opened in November 2017, allowing us to invest in ambitious new work by artists and arts organizations from across the country. Throughout the year, Kevin Loring and his team were laying the groundwork for the NAC’s new Department of Indigenous Theatre, launching next September in our 50th anniversary year.

A special thank you to our exceptional Board of Trustees for their hard work and commitment to the NAC. It is also my pleasure to thank Peter Herrndorf, our former President and CEO, who pioneered so many of the NAC’s most significant national initiatives. Peter transformed the NAC into a thriving national organization that makes a difference to artists, arts organizations and communities across the country. As Chair of the Board, it was an honour to serve with him.

Finally, I would like to thank Christopher Deacon for accepting this next great challenge with such energy and enthusiasm. He is a gifted leader who delivers on big ideas, and I have no doubt he will lead the NAC to deliver on many more. We are truly thrilled that he is our new President and CEO.

Adrian Burns, LL.D.
Chair, Board of Trustees

Christopher Deacon

Letter from
The President
and CEO

It’s an honour and privilege to serve as President and CEO of the National Arts Centre. I was appointed in June, near the end of a 2017–2018 season filled with remarkable initiatives that took place both at the NAC and across Canada.

The performing arts are thriving in this great country of ours. From Newfoundland to Nunavut to Nanaimo and everywhere in between, artists are telling stories through music, theatre and dance, and through newer and more diverse forms. The National Arts Centre stands for all of those artists – and their audiences – whether or not their work appears on our stages.

As the NAC enters its next half-century, we will build on the values and vision that have brought us to where we are today. We will renew and redouble our commitment to performance, creation and learning. We will keep championing Canadian artists, new creation, and adventurous programming. We will push our national role even further, reaching out our arms to Canadians everywhere – live and through digital platforms. We will strive to be a beacon for inclusiveness and diversity, and attract younger audiences. Our National Creation Fund, supported by generous donors from across the country, will invest up to $3 million a year in the development of ambitious new work by Canadian creators.

Our stories define us. Kevin Loring, Artistic Director of NAC Indigenous Theatre, says that stories are medicine. That’s why I am so proud that the NAC is creating the Department of Indigenous Theatre that will put the voices of Indigenous artists – and their stories – on the national stage. It is one of the greatest initiatives in the NAC’s history.

We will deepen our relationships with Francophone communities, and ensure that Francophone programming enjoys a more prominent place on our stages. And as we look to our future audiences, NAC Presents, our all-Canadian series of singer-songwriters and contemporary music, will be a growing part of our future.

It was always our dream to renew this institution by renewing the building. Our transparent new atrium, created as part of our Architectural Rejuvenation project, symbolizes our future – bright and beautiful. I invite all Canadians to come and be dazzled by the brilliant artists on our renewed stages, or to experience the NAC in new ways by enjoying a free event in our public spaces. This wonderful place belongs to everyone.

Many of our new public spaces bear the names of donors to the NAC Foundation, who come from all across Canada. We are so grateful to them, and know they will continue to play a major role in bringing many of the NAC’s future initiatives to life.

I’m profoundly grateful to the artists who taught me so much over the years during my tenure leading the NAC Orchestra. My greatest teacher was Peter Herrndorf, who has done so much for the arts in this country. I thank him for sharing his guidance and wisdom with me so generously over the years. I also thank our exceptional Board Chair Adrian Burns for her vote of confidence, and for her outstanding leadership and devotion to the National Arts Centre. And I feel very fortunate to be working with arguably the best arts leadership team in North America – Alexander Shelley, Cathy Levy, Jillian Keiley, Brigitte Haentjens, Kevin Loring, Heather Moore, Heather Gibson and Kenton Leier.

We will soon begin shaping our next Strategic Plan to take us to 2025. As we prepare to celebrate our 50th anniversary season, the NAC team is brimming with ideas and a passionate desire to work with artists, arts organizations and educators to strengthen the performing arts in communities across Canada.

Christopher Deacon
President and CEO