• By: OLM Staff

NAC’s National Creation Fund is the Antidote to the Creation Gap

The National Arts Centre has long helped to pave the way for artists in our nation's capital and across our country. Last week, the National Arts Centre announced the National Creation Fund, a $25 million fund that will support ambitious new Canadian work in theatre, dance and music by artists and arts organizations across Canada.

Heather Moore is the Artistic Producer of the National Art Centre's (NAC) National Creation Fund which helps Canadian artists and arts organizations create ambitious new work. Moore has been with the NAC since 1994 and her latest NAC project, the newly-launched National Creation Fund, is one of the most important initiatives in years.

Its goal is to fill the “creation gap” by investing up to $3 million a year in the additional time and resources required for Canadian performing artists and arts organizations to create compelling, ambitious and fully realized new work. Moore says that in extensive NAC consultations with artists and arts organizations across the country the message was always the same: 'Artists lack the extensive resources and time that are required to develop compelling work – work that is ambitious, innovative and fully realized. We call this the creation gap.'

As the former Director of Marketing at the NAC, Moore understands the many challenges that come with financing the arts, theatre, dance and the creative process. As Producer for the Canada Scene in 2017 and the many regional scene festivals before that, she has built a reputation for making things happen and has helped the careers of many Canada’s most talented established and emerging artists.

"It’s been incredible to see the results from the National Creation Fund come to life over the past year,” says Moore. “We are seeing the kind of excellence and innovation that can happen when Canadian artists and arts organizations have the time and resources they need to take their work to the next level. We expect that these works will resonate with audiences as they start to tour nationally and internationally in the coming months.”

The National Creation Fund investments enable workshops, technical residencies, expanded creative teams and casts, and the integration of new technology – elements that help creation projects become fully realized. In its first year, the National Creation Fund, has as invested $2,962,000 in 19 projects being developed across the country by some of Canada’s top creators.

For example, on December 7, an expanded production of The Hockey Sweater: A Musical by the Segal Centre for Performing Arts (Montreal), and presented by NAC English Theatre, opened in the NAC’s Babs Asper Theatre. Thanks to the fund, the creative team worked with a dramaturg, had additional development and rehearsal time to incorporate changes, and adjusted the set for future touring.

On January 9, Electric Company Theatre’s The Full Light of Day, written by Daniel Brooks and directed by Kim Collier, premieres at the Vancouver Playhouse. The National Creation Fund’s investment supported a two-week workshop with the entire creative team and additional rehearsal time. The investment also facilitated the creation of sophisticated, tourable scenery, and supported the company’s exploration of film/theatre hybrids by enabling a fully resourced film and VR shoot. The work also plays at Toronto’s Bluma Appel Theatre June 7-13, presented by the Luminato Festival and Canadian Stage.

The National Creation Fund is made possible through the generous support of donors from across the country to the National Arts Centre Foundation’s Creation Campaign. The NAC also works with other partners in creative development, including the Canada Council for the Arts, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and many more.

“The support offered by the NAC's National Creation Fund is critical as it allows artists to take risks and move their art form forward in radical ways,” said Dana Gingras, choreographer of FRONTERA. “This support has facilitated the possibility to work with exceptional collaborators, United Visual Artists and musical artists Fly Pan Am. This generous support allows our team to fulfill our artistic vision and create work at a scale that we could not achieve otherwise.”

The following are the five latest projects, which will receive investments totaling $707,000:

FRONTERA (Dana Gingras, Animals of Distinction, Montreal)
This large-scale multimedia dance and music event is led by choreographer Dana Gingras and her company Animals of Distinction. Set in an audio-synchronized field of light and projection created by UK-based United Visual Artists, with live music by Montreal band Fly Pan Am, nine dancers and a Parkour artist fearlessly engage in a choreography that will dynamically investigate the universal themes and questions around borders. FRONTERA is also the first production to be developed through the Centre de Création O Vertigo – CCOV’s long-term residency program.

O’wet (Quelemia Sparrow, Savage Production Society, Vancouver)
Written and performed by Musqueam artist Quelemia Sparrow, O’wet explores the intergenerational effects of colonialism, memory and the reclamation of land and self through a canoe journey of the soul, back to her ancestral land Xway Xway (now known as Stanley Park). Quelemia Sparrow is collaborating with Indigenous filmmaker Amanda Strong, whose stop motion animation work similarly explores blood history and Indigenous ideology. With a sophisticated blend of cinematic and physical theatre, O’wet brings the multi-dimensional creation story of Vancouver to life.

Prison Dancer (Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus, Citadel Theatre, Edmonton)

In 2007, a video of 1,500 inmates in a Philippines prison dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was posted to YouTube and quickly became one of the first viral videos. The “Dancing Inmates of Cebu” are the inspiration behind an ambitious new musical by Filipino-Canadian creators Romeo Candido and Carmen De Jesus. Over the past several years, they have painted a fictional portrait of the people behind this phenomenon through Prison Dancer, an award-winning transmedia project that includes an interactive web series, a performative cinematic experience, and a cast recording. They are now revisiting their musical Prison Dancer, which will expand this storytelling with an even deeper exploration of these complex characters and their experiences.

SOIFS Matériaux (Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin, UBU compagnie de création, Montreal)

With SOIFS Matériaux, adapted from Soifs, the first book of acclaimed writer Marie-Claire Blais’s fictional cycle, directors Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin wish for this unique voice, which unfolds in long “sequence sentences” of striking beauty and spellbinding power, to be heard directly on stage. Embodied and carried by over twenty actors, this performance unfurls in a great scenic form in which music and images also play key roles, resulting in a vast symphony of modern times. Marie-Claire Blais’ writing is also full of sights and sounds in her kaleidoscopic and sensitive vision of the world, which explores the most intimate dimensions of her characters, as well as the great human, social and political questions they are confronted with.

Sv?h? (Nova Bhattacharya, Nova Dance, Toronto)

Sv?h? is an epic pageant of dance, chant, and ritual performed by women. At the heart of the work is choreography by Nova Bhattacharya for 15 Indian classical dancers, sharing the stage with a body-choir of 75 performers from Indian dance training programs. With the large cast for Sv?h?, Nova Bhattacharya delves into the integration of classical vocabulary with improvised movement, along with elements of body percussion, vocalization and transmission that are inherent to Indian dance.

In addition to the five new projects announced, the NAC has also invested in 14 other projects:


The National Creation Fund is fuelled by funds raised from generous donors across the country who responded to the National Arts Centre Foundation’s Creation Campaign, announced on October 28, 2016. With a lead gift from Winnipeg philanthropist Gail Asper, the campaign exceeded its $25 million goal. The National Arts Centre Foundation, which is led by CEO Jayne Watson, would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their generous contributions to the Creation Campaign, supporting the creation of new works of theatre, music and dance in collaboration with artists and arts organizations across the country: Gail Asper, O.C., O.M., LL.D., & Michael Paterson, The Azrieli Foundation, Kimberley Bozak & Philip Deck, Bonnie & John Buhler, Alice & Grant Burton, The Canavan Family Foundation, The Right Honourable/Le très honorable Joe Clark, P.C./C.P., C.C., A.O.E., & Maureen McTeer, Michel Collette, Barbara Crook & Dan Greenberg, Danbe Foundation, Thomas d’Aquino & Susan Peterson d’Aquino, Ian & Kiki Delaney, Amoryn Engel, Mohammed A. Faris, Susan Glass & Arni Thorsteinson, Shirley Greenberg, C.M., Reesa Greenberg, The Dianne & Irving Kipnes Foundation, Dr. Kanta Marwah, Janice & Earle O’Born, Gail O’Brien, LL.D. & David O’Brien, O.C., Onex Corporation, Power Corporation of/du Canada, The Alan & Roula Rossy Family Foundation, John & Jennifer Ruddy, Dasha Shenkman OBE, Hon RCM, Phil & Eli Taylor, Donald Walcot, Gary Zed, and the countless other Canadians who contributed.