Grand Theatre artistic director to step down after 7 years – London
The Grand Theatre’s artistic director is stepping down after seven years of spearheading numerous productions, some even amidst a global pandemic, in London, Ont.
Dennis Garnhum’s resignation was announced at the end of the theatre’s 2021/22 annual general meeting on Tuesday, saying that he will take his final bow at the end of the 2022/23 season.
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“The Grand has always been a special place for me — it was where I saw my first professional production and where my theatre career began,” Garnhum said in a statement. “When I arrived at the Grand seven years ago, I came with an ambitious plan — to make us World Curious and London Proud.
“These four words encapsulated my dream for the theatre — to see us become a hub for generating bold, new productions from across the world and right here in London,” he said. “And, more than that, to see the Grand become a place where all felt welcome: a true home to every Londoner.”
In driving his “world curious” aspiration forward, the Forest City native notably fostered partnerships with theatre companies across the globe, including the National Theatre and Covent Garden Productions in the United Kingdom and the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.
But one production in particular that continues to make him “London proud” was the Grand’s adaptation of Room by Emma Donoghue, a Dublin-born author who lives in London. The internationally acclaimed production is now slated to open on Broadway on April 17.
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Garnhum is also a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee and a Calgary Award for Community Achievement in Arts.
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The news of his departure comes after the theatre recorded another historic year which included a return to live performances, the completion of a $9.5-million renovation, navigating the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, as well as the retirement of long-time executive director, Deb Harvey.
With for the outgoing artistic director,
Anita Shah, president of the Grand Theatre board of directors, said the departure of the artistic director comes with “a mixture of sadness and gratitude.”
She described Garnhum’s tenure as “ambitious in his commitment to staging new work, ambitious in his natural ability to form significant, international partnerships, and ambitious to break down systemic industry barriers in a pursuit to make theatre arts more widely accessible.”
“What’s remarkable is Dennis’s ambitions weren’t merely hollow hopes, but tangible goals, which I have proudly witnessed come to life over the past seven years,” Shah said.
“On behalf of the Board, we are forever grateful for Dennis’s leadership, and will miss his positive, curious, and creative spirit within the theatre.”
In the coming months, the board said that it will conduct a nationwide search process for the incoming artistic director with the intention of having someone in place by the new season.
“It has been an absolute privilege and the highlight of my career to be a part of the Grand’s story, and to work so closely with some of the most talented artists and administrators in the country,” Garnhum said.
“The Grand’s future is brighter than ever before, and I am excited to see what it will bring.”
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