Department of Canadian Heritage

Department of Canadian Heritage

December 10, 2014 09:00 ET

Government of Canada Announces Historic Investment to Transform and Revitalize the National Arts Centre

Ministers Baird and Glover announce investment to renew one of our national cultural institutions

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 10, 2014) - Department of Canadian Heritage

The Honourable John Baird, Member of Parliament (Ottawa West-Nepean), and the Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, today announced that the Government of Canada will invest $110.5 million for the architectural renewal of the National Arts Centre (NAC). This is part of the $5.8 billion investment previously announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on November 24 to continue to build and renew infrastructure across the country.

Situated in the heart of the nation's capital, the renewed NAC will include improved performance spaces, public areas for education and events, full accessibility for people with mobility challenges, and a magnificent glass atrium and entrance.
The overarching vision of the project is to transform the NAC into a world-class facility that is welcoming and inviting, and that proudly symbolizes the excellence of the performing arts in Canada. The NAC aims to welcome visitors through its renewed entrance by 2017, and to complete most of the project by the end of that year.

Quick Facts

  • Opened in 1969 as a centennial project and designated a national historic site of Canada in 2006, the National Arts Centre welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors each year .
  • The NAC is Canada's only multidisciplinary, bilingual performing arts centre. It has a mandate to work not only in the National Capital Region, but also with artists and arts organizations across Canada to build a national stage for the performing arts everywhere. It presents more than 1,300 shows a year, including the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards.
  • The NAC showcases Canadian artists through its biennial Scene festivals. These shine a national spotlight on established and emerging artists from different regions of the country, and will culminate with Canada Scene in 2017.
  • Over the past decade, the NAC Foundation has raised more than $80 million to support performance, creation and learning.
  • Arts, culture and heritage represent close to $50 billion in the Canadian economy and over 647,000 jobs across the country.
  • The new infrastructure investments of $5.8 billion announced on November 24 will lead to improvements in border infrastructure, federal laboratories and research facilities, museums, national historic sites, on-reserve schools, parks and marine conservation areas, ships, small craft harbours, transportation assets, and other federal buildings and assets. The new investment will help modernize and repair important infrastructure assets, create jobs, support services to Canadians and contribute to Canada's long-term economic prosperity.


"Since its creation in the 1960s, the National Arts Centre has become a thriving national arts organization that is a catalyst for performance, creation and learning, and a home for Canada's most creative artists. The NAC is a national treasure-a living symbol of the performing arts in Canada, and a Crown asset that needs to be restored. We are proud to renew one of our country's most important cultural institutions."

-The Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages

"Our Government recognizes the value of the National Arts Centre to the National Capital Region and to all Canadians. We are proud to support an institution that welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors each year in its building. This investment in our cultural infrastructure will allow the NAC to continue to thrive for many years, while creating jobs and opportunity for our region. The result will be a glowing, brilliantly renewed National Arts Centre, whose transparent entrance on Elgin Street will reflect the welcoming character of our capital and bring new life to the core of our city."

-The Honourable John Baird, Member of Parliament (Ottawa West-Nepean)

"The new atrium and entrance of the NAC will be warm and inviting, and will embrace the nation's capital for the first time. Visitors have often remarked to me that it's unfortunate the NAC turns its back on the city. With this new design, we will finally face the city and its most important square. We often call Confederation Square 'Canada's Square' at the NAC, a place where the country gathers for important anniversaries including Remembrance Day and Canada Day."

-Peter Herrndorf, President and CEO of the National Arts Centre

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  • A magnificent entrance will feature a hexagonal tower of glass and steel, whose geometry emerges from the NAC's original design. The entry level will be on Elgin Street and will connect with the Southam Hall mezzanine level. Above the entry level, the exterior enclosure will be made of glazing that is capable of displaying high-definition imagery: stills, video or live feeds of NAC performances.


  • Public spaces for education, pre-concert gatherings, small concerts and public events on the north face of the building will be expanded. The upper level of the North Atrium will accommodate a new lounge offering stunning views of Parliament Hill, Confederation Square, the Rideau Canal and the Château Laurier.
  • The new Atrium Café located in the new North Atrium will include a coffee bar, casual seating, free Wi-Fi and digital displays showcasing the NAC's current and upcoming performances.


  • The Panorama Room, an event catering space that can currently seat 225 people, will be expanded to accommodate up to 600 people in banquet configuration. The total catering, meeting and event capacity will increase from 7,500 square feet to 18,000 square feet.


  • The Fourth Stage will be renovated to provide a better venue for artists and audiences.
  • The project will add sufficient new lobby space and washrooms to bring the NAC into compliance with modern standards for performing arts centres.


  • The project will address many of the NAC's accessibility challenges, with the addition of ramps, elevators, walkways and wider entrances. The new North Atrium and lobby will be barrier-free in conformity with modern standards of universal accessibility. The project will also greatly improve access to existing NAC lobbies and catering spaces.


  • The new addition to the building will be designed and built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards.
  • The scope of the project includes the reconfiguration of some of the existing mechanical and electrical building systems. It also includes mandatory seismic upgrades to the portions of the existing building supporting the new construction.


  • After a competitive process, the Toronto firm of Diamond and Schmitt Architects was selected to prepare a schematic concept design by the NAC. The firm has designed some of the most exciting cultural projects in recent years, including the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto (2006), the Maison Symphonique in Montréal (2011) and the New Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia (2013).

Contact Information

  • Marisa Monnin
    Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
    and Official Languages

    Media Relations
    Canadian Heritage