New CEO Aims to reBrAnd the GrAnd
New CEO aims to make the building more accessible, both financially and artistically
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.