NAC puts new names to new spaces in renewed centre

The signature piece of the $110-million addition to the National Arts Centre is expected to be the Elgin Street ‘Lantern’ which will gleam at night powered by thousands of LED lights. It will now have a name. The centre announced Monday morning in a media release that it will be called the Kipnes Lantern in honour of Dianne and Irving Kipnes of Edmonton, who have donated $5 million to support the NAC and the performing arts in Canada.

Dianne Kipnes was a director of the NAC Foundation for nine years before stepping down in early 2017. The couple have long been patrons of the arts, health care, education and social services.

“Dianne and Irv Kipnes represent the very best of Canada,” said NAC President and CEO Peter Herrndorf in a media release. “Passionate civic leaders in Edmonton, they have championed urban development through the arts, as well as making ongoing investments that have improved their city, their province and their country.”

NAC Foundation CEO Jayne Watson is quoted in the same release as saying, “this gift, coming as we celebrate Canada 150 and the NAC on the cusp of its 50th anniversary, is a powerful signal of the importance of the arts in defining who we are as Canadians.”

The NAC has said that several new spaces would also be named after donors who have given more than $23 million combined since April 2016. They announced a long list on Monday including new names for the NAC Studio and the NAC Theatre. These include:

• The Babs Asper Theatre: The NAC Theatre will now be named after the late Ruth ‘Babs’ Asper, the mother of Gail Asper. The naming is in recognition of a $5 million donation made by Asper and Michael Paterson to the NAC’s Creation Campaign last fall.

• The Azrieli Studio: The NAC Studio will now carry the name of the Azrieli Foundation which supports music and the arts, scientific and medical research, architecture, higher education, school perseverance, Holocaust education and quality of life initiatives for people with developmental disabilities. The naming was made in recognition of a $2 million gift to the Creation Campaign.

• The Alan and Roula Rossy Pavilion, a new programming space, is being named in recognition of a $1 million gift to the NAC’s Creation Campaign. Alan Rossy is an NAC Foundation Board member from Montreal.

• Atelier Belle Shenkman and Desmond Smith: The NAC’s new education space will be called the Atelier Belle Shenkman & Desmond Smith in recognition of a gift to the Creation Campaign by Ottawa’s Dasha Shenkman.

• Susan Glass and Arni Thorsteinson Staircase: One of the features of the new addition will be a grand staircase linking a new Elgin Street entrance to the terrace level. This passageway, which will also serve as a programming area, will be named after Susan Glass and Arni Thorsteinson in recognition of a $1 million gift to the NAC. Glass, from Winnipeg home, is vice-chair of the NAC Board of Trustees.

• The Janice and Earle O’Born Room will be used for entertaining, rentals and hospitality. It will be named after Janice and Earle O’Born, Janice O’Born is chair of the NAC Foundation. The couple donated $1.5 million to the Creation Campaign.

• Atrium Gail and David O’Brien: The atrium that connects the NAC’s new Elgin Street entrance to the Southam Hall mezzanine will be named after the chairman of the Creation Campaing Gail O’Brien and her partner David O’Brien. They donated $1.5 million gift to the campaign.

• The Yulanda M. Faris Stage is a new performance stage located on the same level as the Elgin entrance. The late Yulanda Faris is a former trustee of the NAC. She and her husband donated $1 million to the centre.

• Julia Foster Gallery. The former chair of the NAC Board Julia Foster will have a new gallery located above the Elgin entrance named in her honour. The space was named after her thanks to gifts made in her honour, the centre says.

• Buhler Family Box: Following a $250,000 gift to the Creation Campaign, a box of seats in Southam Hall has been named the Buhler Family Box.

• Alice and Grant Burton of Toronto have donated $1 million for what is called “highest priority needs.” The Burtons have been longstanding supporters of the NAC. A gift from them in 1999, the centre says in the media release, “was a catalyst for a new era of philanthropy and private support for many NAC artistic and education projects.”

The centre has already named two places in the renewed NAC. One is the The Ruddy Lounge and the other is the Jenepher Hooper Prop Shop following gifts totalling $3.5 million.

Most of the new names will take effect July 1 when the first floor of the new renovation opens to the public, the centre said. The rest will take effect in the fall or as work is completed.

The former Panorama Room will reopen as the Canada Room in February 2018. It will now hold 650 people for a sit-down meal and 1,500 for a reception – more than double the previous capacity. The new space can be split in three rooms (Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific) each with a capacity for 175 seated guests, or 400 standing reception guests.

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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.