If walls could talk, there would be numerous colourful tales about the goings-on at the Nepean Creative Arts Centre (NCAC) over the past quarter of a century. There would be stories of sharply dressed folks nibbling on canapés at artists’ vernissages, and others about knobby-kneed youngsters giggling as they practiced moves for final productions at summer drama camp.
Stories aside, all year ’round this hidden gem in Bells Corners is, in fact, a magnet for residents and families who want to embrace creativity.
Passion for the arts prompted the establishment of the NCAC in 1990. At the time, Nepean was a stand-alone city with Mary Pitt as its mayor, and that same year the NHL approved a new hockey franchise for Canada’s capital city. But the imaginative action was happening at 35 Stafford Road, on a nondescript west-end side street. An inspiring hub came to life, and ever since the NCAC has been a launching pad for the performing and visual arts. “We’ve pulled the creative community together here,” says Laura Logan, the city’s audience and partnership development coordinator.
The NCAC “is really all about creativity, community and collaboration.”
There are over 100 programs, including March Break and summer camps, and the latest offerings include a slew of workshops, from theatrical makeup design and African drumming to dramatic storytelling. Some distinctly adult choices, such as Ballroom Social (coming this fall) and Jazzy Night Out, add a dollop of socializing to the arts mix.
But there’s enough variety that everyone has the opportunity to participate. Options are available for toddlers, teens, adults, families and folks in the 50-plus age group. The offerings include performing arts—music, drama and dance, digital arts—moviemaking and animation, and visual arts—drawing, painting, pastel and mixed media. Programs are also provided for residents with exceptionalities and special needs.
“It’s a real treat to have all this,” Logan points out, adding, “It’s affordable and accessible.” It’s also popular. “A lot of students keep coming back. It’s part of their weekly schedule.”
There’s plenty at the NCAC to entice them. In dynamic custom studio spaces, skilled artists teach classes and lead programs that are open to participants of all levels of ability. Instructors include painters, actors, filmmakers, musicians, photographers and performers.
In addition, the centre serves as headquarters for a number of arts groups that rent space, tackle their own arts projects and deliver other programming in a variety of disciplines ranging from theatre and music to dance and performance, even using the NCAC as a movie set.
It’s also home to two pre-professional schools: Les Petits Ballets provides programs in recreational and pre-professional ballet, and Bells Corners Academy of Music offers ensemble programming and private music lessons. Canadian Showtime Chorus, IZVORAL Romanian Dance Troupe of Ottawa, Nepean Concert Band, Suzart and Propeller Dance are some of the other arts groups associated with NCAC.
Over the years, entertainer Rich Little, actress Sandra Oh, fashion designer Stacey Martin Bafi-Yeboa, performing artist Stephanie Cadman and others have used this Ottawa arts destination as a place to hone their talents.
Today, NCAC is as vital and vibrant as ever, with hundreds of students accessing its programs and facilities each year. For details, see ottawa.ca/nepeancreativeartscentre or call 613 596-5783.