LSM Newswire

Friday, June 24, 2011

More than one million people visited the National Arts Centre during its 40th Anniversary Year

Ottawa (Canada)—The 2009-2010 Annual Report of the National Arts Centre (NAC) tabled in Parliament last week, shows that a total of 1,084,233 patrons took part in performances, events and commercial activities during the NAC’s 40th anniversary season. This included an increase in the organization’s paid attendance for both its Music and English Theatre performances, as well as total box office revenues of more than $17 million.

Artistically the year was marked by many successes including the reinstatement of a national English Theatre Resident Acting Company, the announcement of major composer commissions valued at $75,000 each for three of Canada’s most gifted mid-career composers, and the unveiling of the Oscar Peterson statue by the Queen. Also, members of the NAC’s Orchestra participated in the Cultural Olympiad in Vancouver and the NAC’s English Theatre Department co-produced Night, a play by Christopher Morris that was developed over several years in theatre workshops with young people living in one of Canada’s most remote communities, Pond Inlet, Nunavut.

The NAC posted a $30,000 surplus in 2009-2010. It was the ninth surplus the NAC has achieved over the past 11 years. The annual 2009-2010 operating budget for the National Arts Centre was $65,588,000.

In her Annual Report message, Board Chair Julia Foster credited the leadership of the NAC’s President and CEO Peter Herrndorf, who has led the NAC for 11 years. “NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf, whose dynamic leadership of the National Arts Centre for one quarter of its existence has been remarkable to witness…and whose passion, tenacity and leadership have often been favourably compared to those same qualities of our founder, Hamilton Southam.”

The Board of Trustees of the NAC recently announced that Mr. Herrndorf has agreed to extend his contract for two more years to September 2013.

The NAC’s 40th anniversary celebrations were an opportunity to look back at the idealism of the 1960s when the NAC was founded, to reflect on the successes of the past four decades, and to build for the future.

“The National Arts Centre opened its doors in 1969— a remarkable new organization led by an extraordinary man,” said Peter Herrndorf, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre. “The late G. Hamilton Southam’s passion for the performing arts helped guide the creation of the National Arts Centre and, as our first Director General, Hamilton infused the NAC’s early years with his sense of excitement and his commitment to the arts.”

The NAC’s 2009-2010 Annual Report includes the following highlights:

  • The revival of the National Arts Centre English Theatre Resident Acting Company after a 20 year hiatus, which brought 18 actors from across the country to perform in two productions: A Christmas Carol, and Mother Courage and Her Children directed by Peter Hinton, Artistic Director of English Theatre.
  • There were 1,008 performances staged at the NAC, representing the second highest number in five years.
  • NAC performances attracted almost 450,000 paid customers, generating total box office revenues of more than $17 million.
  • The National Arts Centre Foundation raised $6,054,000 in 2009-2010 which benefited young artists and national programming at the NAC.
  • The combined forces of two full orchestras, the National Arts Centre’s Orchestra and Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain, performed together onstage with a chorus of 240 singers in Ottawa and then two days later again at Place des Arts in Montreal. Audiences in both cities enjoyed the full power of Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
  • The NAC’s ongoing investment in new dance works with Canadian companies like Toronto Dance Theatre’s Dis/(sol/ve)r, was overseen and championed by NAC Dance Producer Cathy Levy. Ms. Levy also secured the Canadian premieres of important works including Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company from the United States, and Thread, a new creation by Canadian modern dance icon, Margie Gillis.
  • The NAC’s presentation of Littoral, written and directed by French Theatre Artistic Director Wajdi Mouawad, marked the exclusive North American engagement of an updated version of the play.
  • Peter Hinton was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in January 2010. Wajdi Mouawad and NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf have also been recipients of this prestigious honour.
  • The NAC’s playwright in residence, Kevin Loring presented his award-winning play, Where the Blood Mixes in Vancouver and Ottawa. The play won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Theatre, and is an exploration of the lives of two aboriginal men who are survivors of the residential school system.
  • The NAC’s Music Alive Programme, a music education programme for students in rural Saskatchewan and Alberta, expanded to schools in several communities in Nunavut.
  • NACMusicbox.ca launched the first website of its kind offering 200 archival performances by the NAC Orchestra over the past 40 years. The NAC’s website receives on average 1.65 million visitors per year, and 93,870 Teacher Resource Kits were downloaded from the NAC’s award-winning ArtsAlive.ca website, one of the most popular arts education websites in the world.
  • The Summer Music Institute welcomed 92 musicians, conductors and composers from 10 countries and eight Canadian provinces to study for three weeks in June with the NAC’s world-renowned conductor Pinchas Zukerman and a remarkable faculty of professional musicians.
  • The Queen unveiled a bronze statue of the late Canadian jazz musician Oscar Peterson on June 30, 2010, in a ceremony hosted by Gregory Charles with a performance by jazz musician Oliver Jones and the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.
  • Under the leadership of Executive Chef Michael Blackie, banquet service attendance increased by 9% from the previous season.

The National Arts Centre continued to fulfill its strategic goals of fostering artistic excellence, expanding its national reach, promoting arts education, increasing earned revenues, and building a stronger relationship with its audience. Overall, single ticket sales from all sources were lower in 2009-2010 than the previous year, but the NAC’s subscription sales were considerably higher than the year before.

The NAC has been having a very good year, as well, in 2010-2011, and there is a great deal of optimism for the upcoming 2011-2012 season. Sarah McLachlan has agreed to perform with the National Arts Centre’s Orchestra at the NAC’s annual fundraising gala, the English Theatre Company will return with more actors and more productions including Oliver for the Christmas season. The NAC Orchestra will be touring Atlantic Canada with concerts in St. John’s, Charlottetown, Halifax, Moncton, Fredericton, St. John and Gagetown. The legendary Bolshoi Ballet will perform Don Quixote, and the Artistic Director of French Theatre Wajdi Mouawad will present his work La Sentinelle with acclaimed French actress Jane Birkin during the final season of his five year tenure.

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