McVay has been with Victory Gardens for 34 years serving as the theatre's administrative leader for 27 of those years. She, along with her husband, artistic director Dennis Zacek, have united Victory Gardens' artistic and business goals as an organization wholly dedicated to developmental theatre. VGT is known for producing plays by its own stable of writers, with some exceptions for other contemporary playwrights.
In 2001, McVay, Zacek and associate artistic director Sandy Shinner accepted the Regional Theatre Tony Award on behalf of Victory Gardens. More recently, McVay played a leadership role in the successful $11.5 million renovation of Victory Gardens' new home at Chicago's historic Biograph Theater.
In announcing her decision to explore other career options in a letter to subscribers, McVay wrote, "I have worked at Victory Gardens for almost my entire working life. In many ways, the theatre has been my life and many of you have been like family to me. Thank you for your support of Victory Gardens and of me personally over those years. However, I have long planned to have a new career 'post Victory Gardens.' With the next ten years of my working life, I hope to make a contribution in education, human services or possibly grant making."
Separately, McVay added, "I will miss the artists and audiences with whom I have been united in sharing the mission and values of Victory Gardens. Together, we successfully established Victory Gardens as a premier regional theatre dedicated to playwrights and their works. That has brought great joy and meaning to my life as I hope it has to many others."
Victory Gardens associate artistic director Sandy Shinner responded, "Chicago's theatre community owes a huge debt of gratitude to Marcie McVay for her 30-plus years of working creatively and tirelessly to build and support the Off-Loop theatre movement. As for Victory Gardens, with its unique, important, and risky mission of developing new work, Marcie McVay's name is synonymous with all the success the theatre has enjoyed. There is a reason that her name is carved above the entrance of our beautiful new home at the Biograph: her passion, extraordinary fundraising abilities and boundless energy have kept the art and Victory Gardens alive." The board of Victory Gardens released the following statement: "Marcie McVay has been the heart and soul of the theatre as Victory Gardens grew from its original location at 3730 N. Clark (now Cabaret Metro) to a shared space with the Body Politic Theatre at 2257 North Lincoln Avenue, and now to the beautifully renovated Victory Gardens Biograph Theater where our productions are currently performed. She leaves an indelible mark as managing director of Victory Gardens. We are, however, fortunate that Marcie will be leaving behind a strong organization with a clear mission and committed audience. We are confident Victory Gardens will attract new outstanding managerial talent. We are also pleased that our artistic director Dennis Zacek will continue focusing on our mission of producing new works by our esteemed Playwrights Ensemble and other nationally acclaimed playwrights — furthering our growth as an American Center for New Plays."
To identify experienced candidates to succeed McVay, the board has formed a search committee that will be led by long-time member Harold Pendexter.
McVay has worked with Victory Gardens Theater since its inception in 1974 as business manager, development director and managing director. Actively involved in promoting growth and unity for the Chicago theatre community, she was a founding member of the League of Chicago Theaters and PACT (Producers Association of Chicago-Area Theaters) and acted as chief negotiator during the first two rounds of contract talks between PACT and Actors' Equity Association. McVay is currently on the board of Season of Concern. She serves as an Illinois Arts Council panelist and has served in that capacity for the National Endowment for the Arts Theater Program and City Arts III.
Working with a $3.1 million annual budget in 2008-09, Victory Gardens is supported by more than 5,000 loyal subscribers.
For more information visit victorygardens.org.