Ottawa developer John Ruddy donates $1 million to National Arts Centre

NAC announces two gifts totaling $3.5 million as it prepares to unveil new and improved building
Trinity Development Group's John Ruddy
Trinity Development Group executive chairman John Ruddy and his wife, Jennifer, have donated $1 million to the NAC. File photo

They may not be spotlight seekers, but local business leader and philanthropist John Ruddy and his wife, Jennifer, are sharing top billing in the National Arts Centre’s announcement of the couple’s $1-million donation toward its creation of new works of music, theatre and dance.

Mr. Ruddy is executive chairman of Trinity Development Group and has contributed to a wide range of causes over the years, from health care to sports to the arts.

His donation to the NAC is being directed toward the arts institution's Creation Campaign, which, announced in September 2016, has already raised close to $25 million. The campaign supports the NAC’s National Creation Fund to bring ambitious new Canadian work to the stage.

“We’re really thrilled,” National Arts Centre Foundation president and CEO Jayne Watson told OBJ. “He’s an example of a citizen who has done very well for himself, business-wise, but understands the best way to enjoy your success is to share it with people.”

The Ruddys have agreed to let the NAC rename its new donor lounge, to be located in the main foyer of the NAC, the “Ruddy Lounge” in recognition of their generous gift.

“They’re very low-key people; they’re not waving the flag for attention,” said Ms. Watson. “But I think they’re happy to do it because I think it shows and encourages and, I hope, inspires other people, as well, to support their local organizations.”

The second gift is from the estate of the late Jenepher Hooper, a former set and costume designer who worked in the NAC Pro Shop in the early 1970s and passed away in 2015. Her estate will donate $2.5 million to the NAC in support of education programs in English and French Theatre, as well as to the Indigenous Theatre Department, which will present its first season in 2019. The NAC Pro Shop is being named after Hooper.

As part of the Creation Campaign, the NAC Foundation has secured a number of leadership gifts that will see other spaces within the NAC be named for leading philanthropists from across Canada.

The NAC announcement comes during exciting times for the national arts institution. It's busy preparing to unveil to the public its newly renovated building at 1 Elgin St. on Canada Day. Everyone is welcome to drop in and visit, both on July 1st and afterward, said Ms. Watson.

“We want people to come in and get used to the place.”