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Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Thread, August 28, 2011

The Thread

Every week we will be posting a whiff of provocation and inviting you to join the conversation in the comments section below. You may respond to the original subject or to previous postings. Play nice. CPC and CharPo contributors will be joining the convo from time to time.

This week:
As reported here, the board of directors of Hudson's Village Theatre did not renew the contract of its artistic director, Andrew Johnston. The reaction was immediate and a group was formed on Facebook to organize resistance to the board's move and to support Johnston. In this new world of fiscal restraint, cutbacks, and theatres struggling for survival, is what is happening in Hudson an important event or a tempest in a teapot and why? Discuss.


  1. First and foremost, I have to preface my opinion with the plain fact that I don't know everything on the subject of the HVT, and, in fact, haven't had the pleasure of seeing one of their shows.

    What I can say, however, is the move to dismiss/not renew the contract of Mr. Johnston is one that holds serious implications. Aside from any questions of money or politics, the job of the artistic director of a given company is to provide a vision for it: where is it going, where can it go, how can it get there, and whom it wants to affect with its work. There are numerous companies around town and across Canada that prove that having solid artistic direction has improved their companies, and their bottom line. (Look at Stratford's numbers over the last few years and the Centaur's continued role at the heart of Montreal's English-language theatre scene to see what I mean).

    Apparently I'm having a bit of trouble getting to the point, so here goes: without a permanent artistic director, whose job description would include "be the public face, the visionary, AND the artistic heart of this company"? While a call for new "guest" artistic directors every year may be financially and/or politically viable (again, I don't have all the details here), it can't provide HVT with the grounding a single leader does, and could even contribute to its stagnation!

  2. I couldn't agree more! An Artistic Director is a vital part of any company. I don't think it's something any theatre can do without. How can a guest have vision for the entire future of the company? Another new term is Artistic Producer. Which to me is a contradiction in terms. A balance between business and arts needs to happen in any healthy and successful theatre, this requires having some long term artistic professionals around. If you're interested in all this you might want to read:

  3. That's all well and good, but you can see from the tone and cruelty of remarks made in the Facebook page that there is no jiggle room here. It's an ugly mess and so-called supporters and half-informed articles are not going to raise the tone of the debate anytime soon. I just had a look at what was being said in the group and it is mortifying. I agree with the heart of the debate - AD or not AD - but no one is addressing the realities: $$$.

  4. I agree with you that vilifying the board is unfair. The debate could be more respectful. I think people are frustrated that the board isn't prepared to re think. I don't know very much about the situation about Hudson so I don't know if this the case. But I think often people claim finances are to blame when there other things afoot.

  5. Disrespectful and unfair doesn't nearly cover it. Putting things in perspective might be a good start.



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