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Grand Theatre announces departure of artistic director

Artistic director of London, Ont.'s Grand Theatre, Dennis Garnhum. (Source: Grand Theatre) Artistic director of London, Ont.'s Grand Theatre, Dennis Garnhum. (Source: Grand Theatre)

As the Grand Theatre celebrated an operating surplus on Tuesday during its annual general meeting, it also announced the departure of its artistic director, Dennis Garnhum.

According to a press release from the Grand Theatre, during its annual 2021/2022 general meeting, Anita Shah, president of the Grand Theatre Board of Directors announced an operating surplus of $14,486 for the 2021/2022 year – bringing the total accumulated surplus to a total of $599,110.

Most surprising of the general meeting however was the announcement from Dennis Garnhum, in which he is stepping down as the theatre’s artistic director at the end of the 2022/2023 season.

In a statement, Garnhum called the Grand Theatre a “special” place for him as it was where his professional production and theatre career first started. When he started seven years ago, he said he had an “ambitious plan” that involved making the theatre “world curious and London proud.”

“These four words encapsulated my dream for the theatre – to see us become a hub for generating bold, new productions from across the world and right here in London. And, more than that, to see the Grand become a place where all felt welcome: a true home to every Londoner,” he said.

Starting with the Grand Theatre in 2016, Garnhum spearheaded several theatre programs and fostered partnerships with theatre companies in Canada and across the globe, including the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ont., Mirvish Productions in Toronto, and the National Theatre in the U.K.

Garnhum’s inaugural playbill was in the 2017/2018 season and featured the world premiere of Silence: Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell, the North American premiere of Chariots of Fire, and a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which marked Dennis’ directorial debut at the Grand Theatre.

Closing out the 2022 holiday season was Elf – The Musical, in which Garnhum was at the helm of and was one of six productions he directed. It also became the Grand Theatre’s high grossing production, delighting more than 30,000 Londoners.

“These dreams are now becoming a reality, and will only continue to grow with our current Grand team – one of the best in the country,” said Garnhum. “I am so proud of all that has been accomplished in the past seven years, and feel as though my work here is complete. I look forward to new creative adventures.”

Garnhum is also a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee and a Calgary Award for community achievement in arts.

Over the coming months, the board of directors will conduct a nationwide search for a new artistic director, with the intention of having someone in the role by the season.

“If I were to describe Dennis’s tenure at the Grand in one word, it would be ambitious,” reflected Shah.

Overall it was a “historic” year for the Grand Theatre, marked by a return to live performances amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the completion of a $9.5 million renovation, and the retirement of long-time executive director, Deb Harvey.

“It has been an absolute privilege and the highlight of my career to be a part of the Grand’s story, and to work so closely with some of the most talented artists and administrators in the country,” said Garnhum. “The Grand’s future is brighter than ever before, and I am excited to see what it will bring.” Top Stories

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