Governor General David Johnston honoured three of the nation’s biggest celebrities with performing arts awards on Wednesday, just as Canada approached its 150th birthday.
Global pop star Michael Bublé and actors Michael J. Fox and Martin Short were among seven recipients of the awards, which recognize “foremost distinction for excellence in the performing arts.”
A History of the Awards
The Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards were created in 1992 under the patronage of the late Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn (1934–2002), 24th Governor General of Canada, and his wife, Gerda.
The idea for the GGPAA goes back to the late 1980s and a discussion between Peter Herrndorf (now President and CEO of the National Arts Centre) and entertainment industry executive Brian Robertson, both of whom were involved at the time with the Toronto Arts Awards Foundation.
When they approached Governor General Hnatyshyn with their proposal for a national performing arts awards program, they received his enthusiastic support. “He became a tremendous fan of the artists receiving the awards each year, the perfect cheerleader in the early years of the program,” recalls Mr. Herrndorf.
The GGPAA was officially launched in 1992, with seed money from the federal government in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of Canada’s confederation. The founding members were CBC/Radio-Canada, the National Arts Centre, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canadian Conference of the Arts, with the generous support of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
The first GGPAA recipients were announced on September 22, 1992, and the inaugural Gala was held at the National Arts Centre on Saturday, November 7, 1992.
In 2007 the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) joined the Awards Foundation as a creative partner and agreed to produce a short film about each Award recipient (beginning with the 2008 laureates). After premiering at the GGPAA Gala, these original and engaging films are made available to all Canadians on the Web and in a variety of digital formats.
In the two decades since their inception, the GGPAA have grown in stature and developed into preeminent national awards.