HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES OPENS THE NEW NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE ON CANADA DAY
His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales today cut a ribbon to officially open the spectacular new glass atrium at the National Arts Centre in the presence of His Excellency David Johnston, dignitaries, artists, architects, construction workers, NAC staff, patrons and members of the public.
In a ceremony hosted by Canadian actor Colm Feore, the Prince was joined by Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly; Mayor Jim Watson; NAC Board Chair Adrian Burns; NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf; Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations; Natan Obed, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; the Honourable Hilary Weston and Mr. Galen Weston, Honorary Patrons of the NAC’s Grand re-opening; Principal Architect Donald Schmitt and Project Architect Jennifer Mallard (Diamond Schmitt Associates); Project Director Andrew Wisniowski; Jim Dougan, President, Eastern Canada, PCL Construction; Alexander Shelley, Music Director of the NAC Orchestra; Cathy Levy, Executive Producer of Dance; Kevin Loring, incoming Artistic Director of the NAC’s new Indigenous Theatre; Heather Moore, Executive Producer of Canada Scene; and Algonquin elder Annie Smith St-Georges.
The ribbon was also cut by 150 people, including NAC staff and construction workers from PCL Constructors, who have worked for 18 months to complete the project, and NAC subscribers. The ceremony featured performances by Quebec music superstar Gregory Charles, jazz singer Dione Taylor, NAC Orchestra Music Director Alexander Shelley with members of the NACO Brass, the Yukon’s Dakhká Khwáan Dancers, as well as young dancers from Propeller Dance and the National Ballet School of Canada.
“It’s a proud day in the life of the National Arts Centre,” said NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf. “Today the NAC embraces the heart of our Nation’s Capital, and emerges from its original concrete structure into an open and modern public building, a place that we hope will become the living room of the city.”
Designed by renowned Canadian architect Donald Schmitt, the renewed NAC will feature improved performance spaces, public areas for education and events, full accessibility for people with mobility challenges. Its magnificent glass atrium and signature architectural feature – the “Kipnes Lantern” located over the Centre’s Elgin Street entrance – are transparent, inviting, and embrace the heart of our Nation’s Capital. Diamond Schmitt Architects has developed a global reputation for performing-arts spaces; it has designed more than 40 performing arts buildings, including Toronto’s Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the Maison Symphonique de Montréal and the new Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. The firm is also working on David Geffen Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
The other visionary behind this project is Peter Herrndorf, President and CEO of the NAC. He set the bar high for the project, promising it would be “on time, on budget, with dazzling results”. The new NAC will animate its new public spaces with a wide range of community engagement activities throughout the day. There will be free wi-fi, free performances, learning activities, community gatherings, social events, celebrations, pre‑show chats and more. In addition, in the fall of 2017, Equator Coffee Roasters, a coffee company based in Almonte, Ontario, will open a permanent coffee shop inside the Elgin Street entrance. Equator will have a preview café at the NAC that will be open July 2-23 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At $110.5 million, the project represents the biggest investment in cultural infrastructure by the Government of Canada to mark the sesquicentennial. This first investment into the Architectural Rejuvenation of the NAC was announced in December 2014 by the former Government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In March 2016, the Government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an additional investment of $114.9 million for the upgrade of production equipment – sound, lighting, electrical, projection and acoustics – in all of the NAC’s performance venues. The entire project will be completed in 2019, to mark the NAC’s 50th anniversary.