The National Arts Centre’s 2022 Gala Celebrates the Strength of Women
Arts & Culture

The National Arts Centre’s 2022 Gala Celebrates the Strength of Women

Since 1969, the National Arts Centre has used its platform to support countless established and up-and-coming Canadian performing artists. From orchestral and dance performances to stage productions and popular music concerts, the NAC showcases and promotes a wide range of artistic endeavours.

For more than 25 years, the organization has also hosted an annual charity benefit—aptly titled the National Arts Centre Gala—which raises funds to help establish and sustain the careers of Canada’s vast panoply of talent.

A Night to Remember

This year’s event, which takes place on November 5, will honour the position of women on Canadian stages while also commemorating NAC Board of Trustees Chair Adrian Burns and her decades-long career as a trailblazer in administration and volunteer leadership. The money raised throughout the evening will be directed to the newly established Adrian Burns Fund for Women Leaders in the Performing Arts, which fosters professional skills development and new opportunities for female creatives.

The evening will feature a performance from the inimitable Jann Arden, a national treasure whose magnetic stage presence, bulletproof discography and acting chops continue to enthral audiences from around the world. Sophie Grégoire Trudeau will also serve as Honorary Chair of the gala, which promises to be a memorable night.

In advance of this event, we spoke with a few of the women, including Burns, who showcase excellence in the Canadian arts landscape. We asked them how it feels to be be affiliated with the NAC, how women can continue to break even more glass ceilings within the arts, and how to deal with self-doubt.

Julie-Anne Madore, NAC Graphic Artist

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self when experiencing moments of self-doubt?

“First of all, you are not alone. Reach out to others for inspiration, ideas, and feedback. The collective brain is almost always better than one. Most of my best work is collaborative.

Secondly, self-doubt is a normal part of the creative process, and it will pass. Artists tend to overthink things, but that is not always bad. Nothing innovative comes out of thinking inside the box.

Lastly, positivity and hard work go a very long way.”

Adrian Burns, Chair, NAC Board of Trustees
Photo: Peter Begg

How does it feel to be recognized by the NAC?

“It’s a tremendous honour because I care so deeply about the organization. The NAC greatly enriches our cultural life here in the Nation’s Capital, but it also plays an essential role in the performing arts ecosystem nationwide. Over the past few years, the NAC has been very focused on leading, supporting, and renewing our sector, which was very seriously affected by the pandemic. We’ve also put a greater emphasis on equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility on our stages, in our halls, and within our staff. We are presenting a wider spectrum of stories, cultures, and artists. We want to welcome more and more communities to the NAC because it truly is a place for everyone.”

Cosette Justo Valdes, NAC Guest Conductor

How does it feel to be recognized by the NAC?

“I feel incredibly humbled, honoured, and embraced. Being at the NAC has made my heart grow. I feel extremely inspired and have more creative every time I’ve been here. I’m so lucky to be able to work with so many talented artists from all backgrounds, and with the musicians of the NAC Orchestra. It has changed my life exponentially.”

Jenni Lessard, NAC Resident Chef

Women have come a long way within the arts and culture sphere, gaining recognition and assuming positions of power that may have been a pipe dream some years ago. How do you feel women can still grow in the industry and achieve even greater things?

“If you see a woman doing amazing things, be her cheerleader! Think of her for opportunities and stand up for her if others try to tear her down. Many of the life changing experiences and ‘lucky breaks’ I’ve had in my industry were because someone, mostly other women, took the time to suggest me for a project.”

Get your ticket to the NAC Gala here.

The future of downtown explored through illustrations by Algonquin College students
Arts & Culture

The future of downtown explored through illustrations by Algonquin College students

Every spring, Ottawa Magazine features the work of student illustrators at Algonquin College. The magazine’s art director, Jeff Eustace, collaborates with instructor Fred Sebastian of the School of Media and Design to develop a guiding concept for the collaboration. This year, they settled on the future of downtown, to accompany the series exploring the same theme in the issue.

Illustrator Kirstin Smith wanted to use the magazine’s vibe, “curious, thoughtful, lively and with a sense of humour,” as she put it, as a way to peer into the future. So Smith included as much of downtown life as she could — the people, the places, and even the pets — while keeping it unmistakably Ottawa.

“I wanted to include many aspects of a future downtown including public spaces, transit, housing, entertainment, green space, bike paths and walkways,” wrote Smith in her submission note. “The challenge was including these elements while also highlighting that it is a redesign, a work in progress, and a future in the making. I also wanted to make sure it was distinctly referencing Ottawa and in no way could be confused with any other city. I found that combining two of my initial sketches, one that included a blueprint and another that included an O in the middle and adding a little nod to the flag of Ottawa, was a clever solution.”

From left: Kirstin Smith used the O of Ottawa to structure an illustration that suggested the city plan for leisure and recreational spaces; Mathis Cournoyer envisioned rooftop patios and gardens — even a new kind of subway; the excitement around repurposing office towers into apartment units was the central theme of this illustration by Laryssa Wysoczanskyj

A very futuristic depiction of the city’s downtown by Mathis Cournoyer was used as the opening image in The Future of Downtown editorial package.

“For the futuristic vision of the city itself, I imagined a vertically expanded city that gives off a sensation of grandeur and allows for the preservation of land area” wrote Cournoyer, noting that the people relaxing and enjoying themselves serves as “a hopeful view of the future.”

Laryssa Wysoczanskyj, whose submission accompanied a development story in The Future of Downtown series, chose to focus on the idea of renovating office towers into apartment units. “These three buildings represent the transformation of underutilized office buildings being turned into living spaces, the leftmost building being a recent memory of the past, the centre building representing the transitional stage of the present, and the last building: plans of the future when all these spaces will be populated. A person in a blank canvas of a room in the center building is the agent of change, moving into a new space and changing to into a future home.”

Ottawa Magazine thanks Fred Sebastian, and all of the students in the School of Media and Design who submitted illustrations, for helping us to build our Spring/Summer 2023 issue.