Stage Door News

Ottawa: The Narional Arts Centre celebrates its 50th anniversary throughout 2019

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The National Arts Centre is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 with an array of special programming and activities that includes a public Open House on June 2, 2019 – exactly 50 years to the day that the NAC first opened its doors in 1969. That momentous occasion drew more than 40,000 people eager to explore the extraordinary, multi-disciplinary and bilingual new home for the performing arts in Canada.

 Fifty years later, the NAC is a catalyst for performance, creation and learning – a thriving, national performing arts organization that makes a difference to artists, arts organizations and communities across Canada. Some examples: In its first year, the National Creation Fund has invested $2.9 million of privately raised funds in 19 ambitious new creations from across Canada, including Revisor by Kidd Pivot, which next month presents its sold-out world premiere at the Vancouver Playhouse. The NAC’s Music Alive Program, which empowers Canada’s rural, Indigenous, and underserved communities through music and the arts, is active in Nunavut, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Atlantic Canada. And in the fall of 2019, NAC Indigenous Theatre will begin its historic first season of programming, shining a light on the voices and stories of Indigenous artists on the national stage.

“The National Arts Centre is proud of its national role, and honoured to be celebrating 50 wonderful years in partnership with so many outstanding arts organizations from across the country,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “It’s a wonderful milestone, and we invite all Canadians to celebrate with us in 2019.”

The Open House on June 2, 2019 will include free performances and activities for the whole family in the NAC’s performance halls, public spaces and backstage areas. More programming details will be announced in the coming months. 



 The NAC will celebrate its 50th anniversary with programming and events throughout 2019:

 THE NATIONAL BALLET OF CANADA (January 31- February 2)

The NAC has been partnering with The National Ballet of Canada right from the start. That’s why the NAC’s 50thanniversary year kicks off with NAC Dance’s presentation of The National Ballet of Canada – the internationally renowned company that performed at the NAC’s opening night in 1969. From January 31 to February 2, the company will feature works by the illustrious George Balanchine (Apollo), Sir Frederick Ashton (The Dream) and Justin Peck (Paz de la Jolla).  

BIG BANG FESTIVAL (February 17-18)

A signature event of the NAC’s 50th anniversary, the BIG BANG Festival is one of Europe’s most renowned festivals for children and families, and its NAC appearance marks its first time in North America. BIG BANG explores the fascinating world of music, sound and the arts through a variety of innovative activities and imaginative performances, including avisually enchanting concert with the NAC Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Shelley.


2019-2020 SEASON LAUNCH (March 2019)

 In mid-March, the NAC will announce the details of the NAC’s 2019 – 2020 season, including more 50th anniversary programming for the fall of 2019. 


The Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards show on April 27 will feature moving tributes and exciting performances to celebrate the extraordinary contributions of some of Canada’s greatest artists and arts volunteers. This year the show will also pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the NAC.


 From May 10-26, the NAC Orchestra will put Canada on the world stage with its 50th Anniversary European Tour. It will include concerts and education and community engagement activities in the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden. Under the leadership of Alexander Shelley, the Orchestra will perform adventurous new works and fresh interpretations of classics, and showcase Canadian guest artists, as well as works by six Canadian composers.


The NAC’s Open House on June 2, 2019 – exactly 50 years to the day that the NAC first opened its doors in 1969 – will be a high point of the 50th anniversary year. This very special occasion will offer free performances and activities in the NAC’s performance halls, public spaces and backstage areas. More programming details will be announced in the coming months.


The NAC’s annual Canada Day celebration, with free performances and activities throughout the day, will include a special 50th anniversary flavour.


The NAC recently announced presentations taking place throughout the summer, including the popular play 2 Pianos 4 Hands, by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal with Dance Me, and the NAC Orchestra performing the score of Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II. This programming will be followed by Broadway Across Canada’s hit musical Come from Away in late August.


The new Indigenous Theatre department will make history when it launches its first-ever season of programming in September 2019. Led by Artistic Director Kevin Loring and Managing Director Lori Marchand, Indigenous Theatre will shine a light on Indigenous artists and their stories on the national stage.

NAC GALA (October 5)

The NAC Gala every year raises funds for the NAC’s National Youth and Education Trust in support of the NAC’s arts education programs across the country. This year the Gala will have a special 50th anniversary theme.



The NAC’s social media channels will be featuring images, video and stories of the 50th anniversary all year long. Watch for them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #NAC50, and on the NAC’s YouTube channel.