New CEO Aims to re­BrAnd the GrAnd

New CEO aims to make the build­ing more ac­ces­si­ble, both fi­nan­cially and ar­tis­ti­cally

Calgary Herald - - FRONT PAGE - LOUIS B. HOB­SON

The fan­fare that greeted The­atre Junc­tion when it took over the ren­o­vated Grand The­atre in 2006 will be ab­sent on Dec. 31 when it va­cates the build­ing which has been the com­pany’s home for 12 years.

Amid ru­mours of mount­ing deficits, in­ter­nal strife, a toxic work en­vi­ron­ment and funds be­ing with­held by govern­ment and arts groups, The­atre Junc­tion’s artis­tic man­ager, Mark Lawes, has agreed to va­cate the premises.

Ef­fec­tive im­me­di­ately, Tony Mc­Grath has been ap­pointed chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of The GRAND to over­see its tran­si­tion, day-to-day man­age­ment and re­brand­ing, and to find ways to make it an ac­tive mem­ber of the Cal­gary arts scene.

Mc­Grath says he at­tended a the­atre event at The GRAND four years ago and was im­me­di­ately smit­ten.

“I didn’t know this beau­ti­ful fa­cil­ity ex­isted in Cal­gary. My wife even­tu­ally joined the board of The GRAND, and when I was asked to be­come the new CEO upon the de­par­ture of The­atre Junc­tion, I will­ingly gave up a lu­cra­tive con­sult­ing busi­ness to de­vote all my en­er­gies to re­vi­tal­iz­ing this mag­nif­i­cent the­atre,” says Mc­Grath.

“This is a great re­spon­si­bil­ity, be­cause The GRAND has a long and pres­ti­gious 101-year his­tory.”

Mc­Grath says he wants to make the the­atre build­ing fi­nan­cially and ar­tis­ti­cally more ac­ces­si­ble.

“In speak­ing with mem­bers of the artis­tic com­mu­nity, I heard from so many of them how ea­ger they are to per­form in The GRAND. They ac­tu­ally ad­mit­ted they never thought that would be pos­si­ble un­der the for­mer man­age­ment.

“Du­val Lang ’s Black Radish The­atre is go­ing to make The GRAND its home. I hope there are other com­pa­nies that will do the same.”

Mc­Grath says he has se­cured book­ings for groups into June.

Dur­ing the 2019 High Per­for­mance Rodeo in Jan­uary, The GRAND’s stu­dio the­atre will play host to How to Self Sus­pend and Crawlspace, and on March 2, Mon­treal’s La Tresse Dance Col­lec­tive will present a new dance piece.

The Fes­ti­val of An­i­mated Ob­jects will take over the 400-seat Flana­gan The­atre from March 12 to 24, and Black Radish The­atre will present Wait­ing for Godot April 26 to May 12. The Old Trout Pup­pet Work­shop will present its new­est cre­ation, Ghost Opera, in the Flana­gan May 27 to June 8.

In 2004, Lawes, through The­atre Junc­tion, spear­headed a $12-mil­lion ren­o­va­tion of the his­toric Grand The­atre, vow­ing to turn it into a home for lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary artis­tic works, shun­ning tra­di­tional the­atre ap­proaches.

In a state­ment he re­leased through Mc­Grath, Lawes said “The GRAND, as it stands, is a legacy to Cal­gary, but now it is time for The­atre Junc­tion to fo­cus on its core artis­tic mis­sion, cre­at­ing and tour­ing na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. We leave The GRAND open to serve Cal­gar­i­ans in its new in­car­na­tion, while we con­tinue our more than 25 years’ jour­ney of ex­plo­rations of artis­tic cre­ation.”

The GRAND al­ready has a va­ri­ety of shows and per­for­mances booked next year, from Jan­uary to June.

Tony Mc­Grath

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