There's lots going on in Ontario's theatre community these days.
Stratford artistic director Richard Monette and arts patron Joan Chalmers have both been appointed to the Order of Canada.
Chalmers has also upped the amount of the New Canadian Play Awards named after her family by $90,000 to a total of $150,000, making it the richest theatre purse in the country. Each of six awards (four in the adult category, two in the theatre for young audiences category) are now worth $25,000.
The Stratford Festival is working on a new project called The Tyrone Guthrie Tent, named after the Festival's first artistic director. Monette wants to use the smaller, low budget, space as a training ground for new directors and to stage new Canadian, classical and unknown plays, as well as work that cannot be staged commercially.
Monette is also moving forward on a conservatory training program for actors which would fit in nicely with the Tyrone Guthrie Tent. In other news, Norman Zagier, Livent Inc.'s VP of Strategic Planning, Marketing and Communications, is quitting and returning home to the States when his contract is up this summer. Zagier is mum about the reasons for leaving, saying only that he's been with the company for ten years and it's time to move on.
And finally, businessman Hal Jackman has been appointed as Chair of the Ontario Arts Council, the province's arm's-length funding agency. The announcement is receiving a mixed response: On the one hand Jackman has been generous in donating money toward various artistic causes, on the other he's a staunch conservative who supports a provincial government not known for promoting Canadian culture.
-- By Mira Friedlander