The National Arts Centre’s Peter Herrndorf Named a Companion of the Order of Canada

Peter Herrndorf, the President and CEO of the National Arts Centre, was promoted last week to Companion, the highest level within the Order of Canada. For nearly 18 years, Mr. Herrndorf has led Canada’s largest performing arts centre during a period of extraordinary growth. The Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to community and service to the nation, and the level of Companion recognizes national pre-eminence or international service or achievement.

Peter Herrndorf arrived at the NAC in 1999 after a period of turmoil at the Centre. He quickly established a clear sense of direction for the organization. Under his leadership, the NAC re-embraced its national role, made youth and education a key pillar of the organization, put excitement back on its stages by committing to artistic excellence, and dramatically increased its earned revenues.  He re-energized the staff, hired superb new leaders to senior management, and recruited an exceptional artistic team, giving them the freedom to produce great work on the NAC's stages, and on stages across the country. 

“Peter Herrndorf continues to be the most successful, influential, and treasured leader in the performing arts in Canada,” said Adrian Burns, Chair of the NAC Board of Trustees. “Throughout his career, he has brought groundbreaking ideas to life. He has helped countless artists and arts organizations fulfil their creative aspirations. More than anyone else, he has helped the Canadian performing arts thrive across the country.”

During Mr. Herrndorf’s tenure, the NAC created a number of significant initiatives to help the NAC become a catalyst for performance, creation and learning across Canada. They include the national, biennial Scene festivals, which showcase artists from across the country; NAC Presents, an all-Canadian music series that features established and emerging Canadian singer-songwriters; the return of regular touring by the NAC Orchestra both nationally and internationally; the Young Artists Program, which has become a prestigious training ground for some of the best young classical musicians from around the world; the Music Alive Program, which promotes music-making in rural and remote communities in western and northern Canada, and soon to Atlantic Canada; increased co-productions with Canadian theatre and dance companies; and the founding of the National Arts Centre Foundation, which has now raised more than $110 million from donors across the country to help fund the NAC’s national initiatives.

Mr. Herrndorf also presided over the NAC’s most recent renaissance, which includes the $110.5 million architectural rejuvenation of the NAC building, which will open on Canada Day, 2017; the $114.9 million renewal of the NAC’s performance halls and production facilities; the Creation Campaign, which has raised more than $27 million to support ambitious new works by artists and arts organizations from across Canada; the National Creation Fund, which will invest money raised from the Creation Campaign into the development of significant new works in music, dance and theatre; the creation of a new Department of Indigenous Theatre, led by the renowned Indigenous artist Kevin Loring, that will help tell a fuller story of Canada to Canadians; the current Canada Scene festival, which features 1,000 artists from every corner of Canada; the 25thanniversary of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards (Mr. Herrndorf, along with Ramon John Hnatyshyn and Brian Robertson, founded the awards in 1992); the NAC Orchestra’s Canada 150 Tour, which will visit every province and territory in 2017; the tour of the NAC English Theatre production of Tartuffe to Atlantic Canada in the fall of 2017; and the creation and tour of Gabriel Dumont’s Wild West Show, an original production written by some of Canada’s finest French, English, First Nations and Métis theatre artists that will be presented in English, French, Cree, Mitchif and Lakota, and that will be performed in Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg and Saskatoon in 2017-2018.

Mr. Herrndorf has shared his leadership and wisdom with countless organizations during his career. There are too many to name, but a small selection includes the Luminato Festival; the Canadian Arts Summit; Vancouver’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, the Stratford Festival (where he was Chair of its Board of Governors); the Pinchas Zukerman Instruments Foundation; the Governing Council of the University of Toronto; the International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (the International Emmies); Key Publishers Company Limited; the Canadian Journalism Foundation; the Banff Television Festival; the Premier’s Council on Economic Renewal; the Ontario Film Development Corporation; the Festival of Festivals/Cinémathèque Ontario; the National Magazine Awards; the Print Measurement Bureau; the Toronto International Music Festival; the International Choral Festival; the International Theatre Festival; and the Glory of Mozart Festival.

Peter and his wife Eva Czigler, a former broadcaster at CBC, have two grown children.