Barry Hughson

Executive Director

Barry Hughson. Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic.

Barry Hughson. Photo by Karolina Kuras.


Barry Hughson joined The National Ballet of Canada as Executive Director in 2014. Over the last decade under his leadership, the company has accelerated its trajectory of artistic growth, fiscal responsibility, community engagement and international presence, including landmark tours to New York City’s Lincoln Center, Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center, Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris and the Mariinsky and Stanislavsky Theatres in Russia.

His career began as a dancer with The Washington Ballet, where he performed classical and contemporary repertoire at the Kennedy Center and on tour throughout the world. For the last 31 years, Barry has served as an executive leader at Connecticut’s Warner Theatre, Complexions Contemporary Ballet in New York City, New Jersey’s American Repertory Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Boston Ballet and The National Ballet of Canada.

Barry is deeply engaged with the international arts community and has had consulting, teaching and speaking engagements in the US, Europe, South America and Asia. He has served on a variety of industry boards, including Dance/USA, North America’s largest service organization for professional dance, where he completed two terms as a Trustee and Vice Chair. In partnership with Dance/USA and The Royal Ballet, Barry spearheaded the first ever meeting of North American and European executive dance leadership, bringing together 22 administrators from nine countries in 2015. In 2018, he joined North American colleagues in The Equity Project, a three-year initiative to address racial diversity in the ballet field. 

Barry has also served as a mentor to emerging arts leaders through Dance/USA’s Institute for Leadership Training and Business/Arts Executive Leadership Program. He has served as Vice-Chair of the National Council for the Canadian Dance Assembly, and as a member of the Steering Committee for the Canadian Arts Summit. As a member of the Coordinating Committee for Respectful Workplaces in the Arts, Barry led the development and implementation of a National Code of Conduct for the Performing Arts in Canada.

He is currently a member of the Steering Committee for the Canadian Arts Coalition and the Advancement Committee for the International Society of Performing Arts, the Labour Relationship Advisory Board at Toronto Metropolitan University and the Honourary Board for the Interprovincial Music Camp. In 2023, Barry received the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Toronto Musicians’ Association, Local 149 of the American Federation of Musicians.

Barry will step down as Executive Director at the end of the 2023/24 season. After 10 years with the National Ballet, he will join American Ballet Theatre as its new Executive Director on July 1, 2024.