About the National Arts Centre Poster Collection
By Gerry Grace, NAC Archivist
Performing arts posters are an integral part of the creative business of selling a stage performance or event to the public. They have played this role effectively at the NAC since our opening night in 1969.
In advance of an NAC show, posters are displayed throughout the streets and public spaces of the National Capital Region and beyond, by a distribution company that is contracted to make sure people will see them, and buy tickets.
Once a show has closed, distributed posters are quickly pulled down and replaced with new posters announcing new shows. At this point, a poster’s first role has ended. This ephemerality underscores the importance of an archival collection.
Whenever possible, at least two copies of every poster received or created by the NAC for distribution are set aside for inclusion in the NAC Poster Collection in our Archive. The NAC Poster Collection can be divided into two very broad categories: NAC-commissioned posters for in-house productions such as Woyzeck (1974), and posters for visiting Canadian and international companies such as the National Ballet of Canada and Kirov Ballet.
Unfortunately, there aren’t posters for every single NAC stage presentation in the collection. Posters aren’t produced for all shows, so the poster collection is not a definitive representation of the NAC’s entire performance history.
At this point, a performing art poster’s second role begins.