Think of it as venture capital for the arts world: that's what the National Arts Centre says about its new $25 million fundraising campaign, which is designed to support artists across Canada creating new works.

A typical arts group rarely makes enough from ticket sales for individual productions — say a dance or a play — to fund the creation of bold, innovative and adventurous new art, explained Jayne Watson, CEO of the Ottawa-based National Arts Centre Foundation.

"Art is inherently a risky proposition. What we're saying is let's make sure there are the opportunities to make those risky decisions. Not everything is going to hit it out of the park, but at least if there are more resources available it gives creators more chance to spread their wings," Watson told CBC News.

"It's like venture capital in the performing arts world."

The NAC is calling this the "Creation Campaign," with some of the money earmarked specifically for pieces marking the 150th anniversary year of Canada's Confederation in 2017.

The overall goal was to secure funding to help "transform the way that new work can be created for Canadian stages," NAC president Peter Herrndorf said in a statement.


The new fund got a major boost thanks to National Arts Centre Foundation chair Gail Asper, seen at left with NAC president Peter Herrndorf and arts champion Dasha Shenkman in 2014. Asper's $5-million gift to the creation campaign is the largest single donation in the NAC's history. (Fred Cattroll/National Arts Centre)

The campaign is being led by a $5-million donation from Canadian philanthropist and businesswoman Gail Asper. Her gift is also the largest single donation to the performing arts institution in its 47-year history.​

An officer of the Order of Canda and winner of the Governor General's award for voluntarism in the performing arts, Asper is chair of the NAC Foundation, president of the Asper Foundation and was also one of the forces behind the creation of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

Including Asper's donation, the NAC campaign has so far raised $23 million. Specific details about how the fund will be invested will be revealed later this fall.