Canada’s National Arts Centre and Toronto’s Luminato Festival issued a joint statement mourning the passing of Peter Herrndorf, a key figure in the country’s arts landscape.
Herrndorf (1940-2023) served as President and CEO of the NAC from 1999 to 2018, and on the founding Board of Directors of the Luminato Festival from its inception in 2006. He was Chair of the Boar from 2018 until his death.
During his tenure at the National Arts Centre, he played a role in guiding the country’s largest performing arts centre during a period of unprecedented growth. He played a key role in many initiatives.
- Helped to establish the National Arts Centre Foundation and NAC Indigenous Theatre;
- Spearheaded the modernization of the NAC building;
- Founded the National Creation Fund;
- Co-created the Governor General Performing Arts Awards in 1992 (with Brian Robertson);
- Served as Chair of Canadian Stage and the Stratford Festival.
The NAC has announced that its flags will fly at half-mast for the month of February in his memory.
“It is an understatement to say that Peter Herrndorf’s tenure was transformative,” said Guy Pratte, Chair of the NAC’s Board of Trustees in a statement. “He was a visionary who had his feet firmly planted on Canadian soil. And that explains why his dreams of making the NAC a more national and more inclusive centre for the performing arts became a reality: his magical human touch transformed aspiration into realisation.”
“Peter Herrndorf had an enormous impact on the performing arts in Canada,” said NAC President and CEO Christopher Deacon. “He fundamentally believed that the National Arts Centre belongs to all Canadians, and that it must reach out beyond its home on Elgin Street to Canadian artists, arts organizations, and communities in every part of the country. For nearly 19 years, that belief informed his vision. He was also unfailingly kind and interested in each and every person – artists, staff and audience. It was an honour and a privilege to work for him, and his NAC family will miss him profoundly. We send our deepest condolences to Peter’s wife Eva Czigler, his children Katherine and Matthew, and the entire Herrndorf family.”
Herrndorf became founding Director of the Luminato Festival Toronto in 2006, and was passionate about the festival’s mix of the best of Canadian and international artists. Luminato went on to showcase more than 17,000 artists for close to 11 million audience members over 16 iterations under his leadership.
“As Chair of Luminato, Peter Herrndorf saw the potential of a truly national and international multi-disciplinary arts festival based in Toronto, but playing on the world stage,” said Celia Smith, CEO, Luminato Festival Toronto. “He was an extraordinarily brilliant, persuasive, generous and relentless champion of artists and arts leaders in this country. I had the great good fortune to work closely with Peter, both early in my career and most recently during our time together at Luminato. He has been instrumental in the careers of so many of us across this country; a great Canadian of his generation. We will honour his legacy as we step forward into this new world without him.”
Peter Herrndorf came to his role at the NAC with a background as an executive in the broadcasting and journalism industry. He would go on to serve on more than 60 boards. His contributions to Canada’s cultural landscape were recognized by several awards and honours, including 10 honorary degrees. He was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada in 2017.
Rest is peace.
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