NAC Presents set to support concerts in 10 cities across the country

The NAC Presents concert series is about to truly go “national.”

In the 2017-18 season, NAC Presents Across Canada will help partners in 10 cities put on up to 40 concerts featuring emerging and established Canadian artists.

The outreach idea is Heather Gibson’s. She is the executive producer of the concert series that showcases Canadian talent inside the centre. The former music promoter, club owner and head of the Halifax Jazz Festival knows all about the importance of building contacts into a network across the country. She has continued that work since arriving in Ottawa six months ago.

She recently announced a much expanded NAC Presents concert lineup for Ottawa, which will include a larger role for the Fourth Stage venue including a special Friday Nights at the Fourth. Her first programmed season  has a fall lineup featuring about 60 concerts with about 90 concerts in all expected in 2017-18. Last season’s entire lineup was 67 shows.

This new venture is an extension of that larger vision for NAC Presents. It also helps fulfill the national side of the centre’s mandate.

“We be doing two to four concerts in each city,” Gibson said in an interview. “It’s a partnership with strong promoters and similar to NAC Presents in each city. It’s my opinion that we need to work with people in the communities and not take tickets out of a market.”

Some of the venues are arts centres and some are folk festivals. The latter, Gibsons says, are the strongest promoters of Canadiana in their cities.

“We (NAC Presents) are doing Canadian. The promoters are choosing the lineup entirely. They knew their market. They are book, we are supporting financially, with marketing, with whatever we can do on our end.”

The national brand of the NAC has always been a bit of a puzzle. Gibson says that the centre’s own research shows awareness of the centre outside of the national capital is not what it is wanted to be. She wants to reverse the idea that someone has to come to Ottawa to attend something sponsored by the NAC.

Since assuming her post in Ottawa, Gibson has been often on the road listening to musicians and meeting with promoters in places such as St. John’s, Charlottetown, Halifax, Montréal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver and Whitehorse.

There is already a lineup of cities and shows focussed on emerging artists including at the:

• Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon. NAC Presents Across Canada shows include Ferron and Her All Star Band, Project Humanity’s Freedom Singer, Kane & Potvin, The Fourth Light Project, An Immersive Multimedia Experience.

• Vancouver Folk Music Festival: Good Lovelies.

• Calgary Folk Music Festival: Martha Wainwright, The Dead South.

• Regina Folk Festival: Nomadic Massive, William Prince, Cold Specks.

• Winnipeg Folk Festival: William Prince.

• Lula Lounge/Lula Music and Arts Centre, Toronto. Sarah Thawar.

The series will also be presenting shows to be announced with:

• Phi Centre, Montréal.

• Halifax Pop Explosion.

• Confederation Centre for the Arts, Charlottetown.

• Arts and Culture Centres of Newfoundland and Labrador.


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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.