Stage Door News

London: Deb Harvey announces her final year as Executive Director at the Grand Theatre

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Anita Shah, the President of the Board of Directors of the Grand Theatre, announced today that Deb Harvey, will be stepping down as Executive Director of the theatre following the end of the 2021/22 Season.

Arriving 22 years ago from Nova Scotia on a six-month contract, when the Grand was at risk of closing its doors due to financial debt, Deb Harvey has stewarded the Grand to 21 years of surplus. The Grand posted its first, albeit small, deficit in her tenure last year as a result of COVID-19. 

‘’Deb Harvey arrived here from out East and promptly wove herself into the fabric of this community. Deb’s record of fiscal leadership is unmatched but is only part of the story of Deb Harvey.  She has formed meaningful and impactful relationships with government and business leaders, staff, artists, volunteers and patrons.  She has contributed in many ways to her ‘new’ hometown, from volunteer positions on the Boards of Tourism London and Downtown London, and her unwavering support that the Grand be a ‘teaching’ theatre, ensuring our mentorship of students and apprentices,” Anita described.

“We knew this day was coming eventually, but that doesn’t make it any easier. It will be difficult to replace Deb, her leadership, and her dedication to the theatre. We have a year to celebrate her, honour her legacy, and to give her the send-off she so richly deserves.”

Deb has been the Grand’s anchor. She has worked alongside eleven Board Presidents, three Artistic Directors, and six mayors!  Deb will undoubtedly be remembered for her unwavering support of the hundreds of guest artists and talented staff she worked with over her tenure and how she rarely missed a volunteer circle meeting and the opportunity to greet patrons in person in the lobbies before performances.

Deb is a champion of the Grand’s many youth programs like the High School Project, 100 Schools and Holiday Wish for Kids. Hearing the thunderous applause from a Student Matinee performance is admittedly “one of my favourite sounds”, she noted.

Deb was recognized for these and other contributions in 2019 with a YMCA Women of Excellence Award.

Most recently, Deb has led the Grand’s $9M RENO2020 project, successfully spearheading public and private partnerships to ensure a safe, new, welcoming space for our artists, patrons, staff and volunteers.

“In these last few months, I have referred to us literally and metaphorically “making room” with this renovation of the Grand.  I imagine folks might have surmised that I was referring to “making room” for the next Executive Director, so my leaving will not come as a surprise,” noted Deb.

She added, “Our industry is calling for change. At the Grand, as we re-open post-COVID, we talk about telling new stories and hearing new voices. Some of those new voices need to be those of new leaders. And we have set the stage perfectly for the Grand’s next chapter.”

“We have been bold in our choices, have taken many artistic adventures together and expanded the notion of what is possible - and that is due to Deb’s ability to make my ideas become full blown reality.  That’s one of her many superpowers,” said Dennis Garnhum, Artistic Director.

“Giving a year’s notice gives the Board time to complete the search for a new Executive Director and allows me to enjoy, for a year, this beautiful renovated space we have created, help us get back, post-COVID, to our core business of producing theatre and welcoming audiences.  It also allows me the opportunities to say hello’s and goodbye’s.  I will continue to give my whole heart to this organization until my last day, and truly anyone who knows me knows how proud I am to work here and proud of the work we do and the value we add to our City,” Deb stated.

“The Board is deeply grateful for the legacy Deb has left us. This coming season we are opening post-COVID with a beautifully renovated theatre, with programming that will inspire and entertain us, and we will invite new audiences in through our doors.  With tremendous foresight, Deb’s negotiation of our performance disruption insurance policy has meant a more stable financial future for the theatre. We are hopeful, positive, excited, and with our supporters, we bravely march into this new era for the Grand Theatre, together,” Anita noted.

Deb added, “We can’t wait to re-open. We need to get back to business, tell new stories, share our new spaces, and welcome audiences back.  And most importantly, together, we are planning for the bright future that lies ahead for the Grand. Onward.”

Photo: Deb Harvey.