On Wednesday morning, the invited their partners, stakeholders, Board Members and the media to its Theatre Salon, and revealed its . The cozy room was filled with performers, guests, art, theatre, music and dance enthusiasts, and included a packed media gallery, cameras and recording devices in tow.
Nationally acclaimed pianist kicked off the launch with an impressive piece by Oscar Peterson. His performance was an excellent way to set the stage for what the NAC has in store for Canada next year.
Welcoming remarks were delivered by and Métis Andre-Robert St-Georges. Elder Annie first spoke in Algonquin, welcoming and thanking guests for being part of the event. I was later privileged to learn from her how to say hello and thank you in Algonquin: Kwey Kwey, Meegwetch.
When I talked with Elder Annie later, she spoke about reconciliation and the importance of newcomers and Indigenous people moving forward together and united. I also learned that I was in the presence of a woman who made Canadian history as the National Art Center’s first woman Home Elder.
The NAC then outlined their two goals for their sesquicentennial programming: to reach as many Canadians as they can with a cross-country tour and to invite Canadian artists back home to their National Arts Centre.
An emphasis that “the world needs more Canada” was made, and I could not agree more, particularly when it comes to telling the stories of Canadian Indigenous communities whose lands newcomers settled on a few hundred years ago.
The NAC has heard this message loud and clear and has been working very hard in the last 10 years to showcase Indigenous art in its programming.
It included the creation of a new Department of Indigenous Theatre in its 2015-2010 Strategic Plan, and is now actively recruiting for the position of . The NAC hopes to have their new Director in place by summer 2017, with the first Indigenous theatre programming launching in 2018. Nonetheless, NAC’s Canada 150 programming for 2017 includes an important Indigenous component, which has been incorporated in numerous performances.
Planning for NAC’s 2017 programming started in 2009, during which the NAC identified an opportunity to rejuvenate its Brutalist building, and reopen its doors in time for Canada’s Big Year. The grand re-opening of the new NAC building will take place Canada Day 2017 with a big party, guests of honour and a ribbon cutting.
The NAC on the road in 2017
The talented NAC Music Director will lead the NAC Orchestra on a springtime cross-country tour through Atlantic Canada, telling Canada’s story from both an Indigenous and newcomer lens. The tour will be complemented by performers and multi-media artists in select locations, and each performance will close with recitations from aboriginal poetry.
Molière fans rejoice! , one of the most notorious French Renaissance plays is coming to an East coast near you! Although the play is now over 350 years old, the NAC kept it fresh and relevant by sprinkling Newfoundland charm all over it, and delivering it through an educational component to youth and artists across Canada.
Finally, the NAC is taking a walk on the wild side with Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show, which will tour Montreal in the fall of 2017, and Winnipeg and Saskatoon in early 2018. The play is described as a “theatrical rodeo”, which tells Gabriel Dumont’s story while in exile in the U.S. It will be presented mostly in French and English but also in Cree, Mitchif and Lakota.
Bringing Canada’s best artists back to the nation’s capital
NAC Orchestra’s music director Alexander Shelley will return to the Capital from his cross-country tour to conduct the music of Nicole Lizée, Andrew Staniland and Kevin Lau, as they accompany Ballet BC, Alberta Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada in , an NAC Dance and NAC Orchestra co-commission.
2017 marks the 25th Anniversary of the . This special evening will be celebrated on June 29, just a few days before NAC’s grand re-opening, and will honour Canada’s most celebrated performing artists.
From June 15 to July 30, over 1,000 artists from across Canada will gather in the National Capital region to deliver roughly 100 events showcasing music, theatre, dance, culinary arts, visual and media arts, film, literature and circus arts. will highlight Canada’s diverse, dynamic and inclusive culture. Although the full line-up will be released in spring 2017, tickets for the following shows can already be purchased:
The launch closed with the live performance of “Gentle Warrior”, from the . Rita Joe was an Indigenous poet and song writer who empowered Indigenous youth to be become determined to reclaim their culture. The song was performed by young Indigenous artists from Eskasoni – Mi’kmaq Cape Breton, NS, and was a brilliant way to showcase the strong aboriginal presence in NAC’s programming, and in Canadian history.