Op – Ed – NBOG thanks you!! 21 September 2014

To the committed audiences and artists who braved the rain last weekend, thank you for coming out to celebrate Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau (NBOG) with us. To the 280 artists who put on 80 projects throughout the night, and the businesses and galleries in the ByWard Market, Arts Court, downtown Gatineau, and Wellington West who opened their doors to the thousands of revelers of all ages who took part in the evening, thank you. This free event is a success because of the generous support we receive from these hosts and hubs.

In his article, Peter Simpson has some valid points for improvement. We have seen these and a few others echoed in statements and in online postings from others involved in the event. Some of these arise from experiments made by a growing organization, many others however from trying to work a complex event in a system not designed to host it.

We are working with other Nuit Blanche organizations in the country (of which there are many) to address the funding policy structures in Canada that do not support the nature of the event that we run. Today, this event is run by volunteer staff, board, and artists. In time, we aim to not only compensate artists for their creative work at NBOG, but to help fund the creation of new work. Unfortunately, this is not the reality of our current budget, and with the lack of private and public funds available to us, it will likely be the case until corporate sponsors become committed to our program and funders at all levels are able to support these types of events.

Our theme this year was Bypass. We use annual themes as an integral part of our mission for growth. We are not only developing a spectacle event, but are trying to create a valuable contribution to cultural dialogue and programming in the region. Many artists responded to the theme with poignant, profound and playful installations.

In three years we have grown. We have built a tremendous network of NBOG artists; we have shaped a night of cultural presentation where art lovers and those who want to dip their toes into culture can enjoy a safe place to take that leap. We have built bridges between communities and given creative individuals a platform to test new ideas and to succeed.


This event is run by volunteers made up of passionate individuals who see the value of cultural growth tied hand-in-hand with economic growth. With an extremely modest budget and a dedicated team, we are creating unique opportunities for the public to discover and artists to experiment.

Our operational plans evolve as we learn how to navigate and produce our event within a complex space, where the curb is run by the City, the courtyard by the NCC, the walls by a property management group and the sidewalk by a business association. While it is a challenge navigating through the various levels of approvals, we thank all those offices who were open to our creative ideas even when we told them that we wanted to close streets to bring in steamrollers to do monster printmaking, build domes, project onto walls and do all this in the middle of the night and disappear without a trace by sunrise.


NBOG is made possible through partnerships with local business, arts groups and business associations. Through their willingness to open their doors and minds to this event, we are able to do things for one night that were previously not done in the city. As we begin planning NBOG 2015 we welcome more businesses, arts groups and sponsors to join us with their creative ideas so that we can work together to build our dusk-until-dawn celebration of multidisciplinary arts and culture in the National Capital Region.

We believe that this event has been, and will continue to be, a shining success for the region. Each accomplishment paves a path for positive growth, one that we are dedicated to forging. While the Byward Market, Downtown Rideau and Arts Court certainly saw a record number of audiences, things were by no means quiet in Gatineau or Wellington West. We are proud of the projects in both these regions and look forward to developing further relationships and programming in these zones. Part of our mission at NBOG is to promote the region and build community. We saw a significant increase in the number of people who took the free NBOG shuttle service to Gatineau this year. This is a huge accomplishment to us.

Large scale events like NBOG are produced and developed in a vortex of factors, which get a little easier to work within every year. We welcome the entire community, with all its support and criticism, to join us in helping to build the NBOG into a robust, multi-disciplinary, cross neighborhood, bi-province event it continues to be.

Dr. Megan Leigh Smith, Creative Director & Curator
Ariane Nazroo, Managing Director
Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau


Megan Smith (left), Creative Director, Mayor Jim Watson (centre) and Ariane Nazroo (right) Managing Director, at the NBOG 2014 Launch Party
Megan Smith (left), Creative Director, Mayor Jim Watson (centre) and Ariane Nazroo (right) Managing Director, at the NBOG 2014 Launch Party
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