Julie Drake (Photo by Bruce Zinger)
(Toronto) – Karen Kain, Artistic Director of The National Ballet of Canada, and Barry Hughson, Executive Director, announced that Director of Communications Julia Drake will retire from the company at the end of the 2018/19 season after 29 years. Ms. Drake’s final day at the National Ballet will be June 30, 2019.
Ms. Drake joined The National Ballet of Canada as Director of Public Relations in 1990 and was promoted to her present position as Director of Communications in 1998. During her tenure, she worked under three Artistic Directors: Reid Anderson (1989 to 1996), James Kudelka (1996 to 2005) and Karen Kain (2005 to present). She led the Communications department through such milestone events in the company’s history as the move to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in 2006; the opening of The Walter Carsen Centre in 1996; over 20 international tours including Israel, Japan, London, Paris and Russia; and world premieres by acclaimed choreographers such as Mr. Kudelka, Christopher Wheeldon, Alexei Ratmansky, Wayne McGregor and Crystal Pite.
“Throughout her 29 years at The National Ballet of Canada, Julia has spearheaded the Communications department with a calm, refined leadership, producing outstanding campaigns and promotional materials that colleagues of mine all over the world have often stopped me to praise,” said Ms. Kain. “Julia has been an incredible support to me during my 14 years as Artistic Director and I will miss her elegant taste, composure and unwavering support both as a colleague and a friend. We thank her for everything she has done for the National Ballet and wish her well as she embarks upon new adventures.”
“Julia has led The National Ballet of Canada’s marketing and communication efforts with great taste, intense discipline and quiet strength. She has also been a key advisor, devoted advocate and dear friend to Karen Kain. We are deeply grateful for her 29 years of intelligence, creativity and commitment,” said Mr. Hughson.
Ms. Drake leads a Communications department of 37 including Marketing, Public Relations, Digital Content, Box Office, Education and Outreach, Archives and In Studio. Over the past 29 years, she increased box office revenues by over 50%, consistently achieving targets of over $12 million in recent years. Ms. Drake oversaw the launch of YOU dance, which has reached over 235,000 students in grades four to six with both live performances and livestreams across Canada, and In Studio, the company’s thriving adult fitness programme. Ms. Drake directed the company’s swift shift from a traditional media landscape to a digital one, making the National Ballet a leader in digital arts marketing and digital storytelling.
“As dance critic of the Toronto Star for 39 years I watched The National Ballet of Canada even before Julia Drake became its smiling protector but it is hard for me to imagine the company without her. She understood the role of a critic even better than some of those wearing the title and let our criticisms fall like water off a duck’s back,” said William Littler, former Toronto Star dance critic.
“Julia Drake has given the world a masterclass in a unique style of marketing that is shaped by elegance, grace, simplicity and innovation. The National Ballet of Canada has been fortunate indeed to wear her timeless imprimatur,” said John Coulbourn, former Toronto Sun dance critic.
“I watched in admiration as Julia Drake found ways to market The National Ballet of Canada to new audiences, an important element to keep the company healthy and strong. Julia wasn’t just passionate about her job, she was passionate about the art form itself, and that’s what made her so good at what she did for 29 years,” said Paula Citron, dance critic.
Before joining the National Ballet, Ms. Drake was Director of Public Relations at Young People’s Theatre, Circus Tivoli, oversaw the publicity for the tour of the Great Circus of China and managed the cross-country tour of Ballet Revue, featuring Ms. Kain and other dancers from the National Ballet, while with General Arts Management.
Ms. Drake’s dedication to the company and artists and devotion to the arts will be greatly missed. The National Ballet wishes her the best in this new chapter.