Celebrating the Canadian Arts at the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA)

June 2, 2018

For the first time in the 26-year history of the Governor General’s Performing Arts awards, more women than men were honoured with the pomp and pageantry of the nation’s highest honour for the arts. Each artist was fêted with a segment that included a short National Film Board-produced film, a performance and a presentation by a high-profile friend, either in person or on video. They were toasted during a lavish gala at the National Arts Centre on Saturday evening. Seated in the upper balcony, the laureates looked out over an elegantly dressed, sold-out crowd that was generous in doling out standing ovations.

The Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA) are Canada’s foremost distinction for excellence in the performing arts. The awards recognize a stellar array of artists and arts volunteers for their outstanding contribution to culture in Canada and abroad.

Among this year’s laureates was the National Arts Centre’s very own Peter Herrndorf, who that night stepped down after 18 years as the institution’s President and CEO. He was recognised with a Lifetime Artistic Achievement award for his outstanding work and contribution to the performing arts in Canada. Alexander Shelley conducted the tribute performance to Peter Herrndorf alongside the musicians of the National Arts Centre Orchestra and singer-songwriter Jeremy Dutcher.

The seven other laureates included comedy impresario Andrew Alexander, actor Geneviève Bujold, pianist Angela Hewitt, choreographer Ginette Laurin, singer-songwriter Murray McLauchlan, arts supporter Florence Junca Adenot and pop stars Tegan and Sara.

The most heartfelt speech of the night came from NAC producer Heather Gibson, who thanked Tegan and Sara for their music and activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community. Describing herself as “perhaps the only out lesbian working at this level as a Canadian music industry executive,” Gibson said she was inspired by Tegan and Sara to stand up and be visible. “The impact of you being awarded this is really overwhelming and it felt really important,” Gibson said.