You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’”

-—George Bernard Shaw

Peter A. Herrndorf

2018 Lifetime Artistic Achievement Award (Special Award)

Arts advocate, leader and passionate Canadian

Peter A. Herrndorf has devoted his career to journalism, broadcasting and the arts in Canada. As president and CEO (1999–2018) of Canada’s National Arts Centre (NAC), North America’s only multidisciplinary, bilingual performing arts centre, he has worked tirelessly to fulfill the centre’s mandate: to play a leadership role in fostering artistic excellence in all disciplines of the performing arts in Canada. A visionary champion of performance, creation and learning, he was instrumental in establishing the National Arts Centre Foundation and the NAC’s Indigenous Theatre Department, and is credited with transforming the NAC artistically through major national and international cultural projects, and physically through a $225.4-million architectural rejuvenation and production renewal project completed in 2018. “It’s been exhilarating, it’s been stimulating, it’s been a privilege,” he says. “I’ve loved every bit of it.”
Mr. Herrndorf was born in 1940 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and moved to Winnipeg in 1948. Before joining the NAC, he was a television producer at CBC, head of CBC TV Current Affairs, then vice-president and general manager of the CBC’s English-language radio and TV networks; publisher of Toronto Life magazine; and chair and CEO of TVOntario.
In 1992, he and his colleague Brian Robertson created the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA), under the patronage of the Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, then-Governor General of Canada, and his wife, Gerda.
Actively involved with many Canadian arts organizations, he is the former chair of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, the Canadian Stage Company, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization, among others. He currently serves on the boards of the GGPAA Foundation, Luminato (Toronto’s Festival of Arts and Creativity), and the Campaign Committee of Dalhousie University’s Fountain School for the Performing Arts.
Peter A. Herrndorf is a Companion of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of Ontario. Other awards and distinctions include the inaugural Peter Herrndorf Arts Leadership Award (Business for the Arts); Diplôme d’honneur (Canadian Conference of the Arts) for outstanding service to the arts in Canada; William Kilbourn Award (Toronto Arts Awards Foundation); John Drainie Award (Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television); and honorary degrees from eight Canadian universities and colleges.