Stage Door News

London, ON: Deb Harvey receives London theatre’s top honour

Friday, March 11, 2022

London’s theatre community has awarded its highest honour to the woman who has kept the Grand Theatre in the black for more than 20 years.

Deb Harvey, who’s leaving her post as executive director of the Grand on June 30, is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Chris Doty Award by the Brickenden Awards committee.

“While the annual Brickenden awards ceremony has been on pandemic-related hold since 2020, the board all agreed on the need to recognize Harvey’s tireless dedication to and championing of the city’s theatre community,” chair Jane Hanbuch said in a release.

The award was presented by longtime Grand and Brickenden volunteer Al Green, clad in top hat, tails and white gloves, his traditional wardrobe at the Brickenden Awards show that remains on hold.

“It’s such a huge honour,” Harvey said.

“I knew Chris Doty (who died at 39 in 2006) and it’s still a loss for this city. That’s a good name to be associated with.”

Doty, a journalist, historian, award-winning documentarian, author and playwright, helped establish the Brickenden Awards for independent theatre in London in 2002.

London theatre icon Art Fidler, the 2005 Doty award recipient, pointed to Harvey’s “constant support and advocacy” for the Grand Theatre’s High School Project and her efforts to make the theatre affordable for young people.

"She has set a standard of outreach that is not matched in our nation,” he said.

“Deb has been a woman we have trusted and relied on to keep our cherished Grand Theatre alive, solvent, and always true to its idealistic mission,” Fidler added, with a nod to her other passion, golf.

“Deb knows how to get the game out of the rough and the sand traps, how to hit strong and true, how to honour the rules of the game, and how to thrive under pressure. She has given all of us, for 22 years, her best shots.”

Harvey arrived at the Grand in 1999 on a six-month contract when the theatre faced a $1-million deficit. She stayed and turned it around, delivering 20 straight years of budget surpluses, interrupted only by a pandemic-fuelled $60,000 deficit in 2020.

By Joe Belanger for

Photo: Deb Harvey and Al Green. © 2022 Keith Tomasek.