With heartfelt gratitude for her passionate and unwavering commitment to the Manitoba theatre community, the board of directors of Theatre Projects Manitoba is announcing the upcoming departure of its Artistic Director, Ardith Boxall. Ardith has been a force for 15 groundbreaking seasons, guiding the company through a period marked by growth, artistic excellence and deep community impact.
TPM’s 2020/ 2021 Season was intended to be both Ardith’s final season and a celebration of the company’s 30th Anniversary. We are grateful that when the pandemic upended all programming and celebrations, Ardith extended her tenure (and love and care), steering the company through these difficult times. She will continue to serve the company through the summer and fall as the company completes its revised “Online and On the Land” Season. A new Strategic plan will be put in place which will guide our search for new artistic leadership.
“The end of my tenure is an important catalyst in the life cycle of this incredible company and the community it serves. While it is bittersweet to say goodbye to my artistic home and family of fifteen years, the time is right for TPM, and for me personally to envision the next chapter. All beginnings start with an ending.”
“It is indeed bittersweet to see Ardith leave the company. She has inspired, led, welcomed, imagined, created, experimented, and worked with dogged determination in service to this company and this community. She has nurtured it with all her great care, creativity, character, intellect, courage, and will, and it has indeed grown. We will miss her. I want to take this opportunity, on behalf of the board, and personally, to thank her for all that she has done. Our consolation is that we, along with Ardith, are now looking greatly forward to the next step, the next leader, the next phase of the company, the next growth.”
-Bill Kerr, Board Chair
Ardith’s commitment to the company predates her serving as Artistic Director. She has been involved in various capacities with TPM throughout its 30-year history. She performed in productions such as Ce Weekend La and I Do…Do you? In 2004, when the company was going through a period of flux and struggle, Ardith offered her services and support. Her presence was the continuity TPM needed during this transitional time. She spent a season as Artistic Associate and a year later was appointed the company’s 5th Artistic Director. She was the sole artist/administrator working on a self-employed contract.
Ardith oversaw the development and production of 21 Manitoba plays, five seasons of the writer-performer series In the Chamber which presented 10 new pieces and 7 years of the much-loved Salon Series. Throughout her tenure and at the heart of everything, has been a commitment to mentorship and providing opportunity for employment and professional development. This mission led to some notable initiatives in the Winnipeg community: University Student Reps, paid Artists in Residence and independent Companies in Residence who were supported artistically and financially. She has cultivated artistic challenges for independent artists; especially directors. She nurtured a partnering home for One Trunk Theatre and zone 41 Theatre; leading the charge for production partnerships that are still extremely rare in Winnipeg theatre.
With Ardith’s vision and leadership, Theatre Projects Manitoba has become known for:
- Programming plays that provoke conversation and dialogue. Brand new works like Sargent & Victor & Me, Dragonfly, Reservations brought new voices and experiences into the spotlight.
- Ambitious projects in partnership with One Trunk Theatre and zone41 – Red Earth, I Dream of Diesel, Three Sisters and The Miser of Middlegate- large scale shows highlighting the talent and vision of Manitoba theatre artists.
- Partnerships, touring, and outreach. TPM has presented several works with Native Earth Performing Arts (Almighty Voice and His Wife, The Triple Truth and Huff). Works on tour included Debbie Patterson’s Sargent & Victor &Me, Mary’s Wedding, and Chautauqua 2018
- Continuing to centre playwrights – including the premiere of new works for the stage by Armin Wiebe, Carolyn Gray, Steven Ratzlaff, Lara Rae, Dale Lakevold & Darrell Racine, Ellen Peterson, and Debbie Patterson to name but a few!
A gifted director, Ardith directed the world premiere of Lara Rae’s Dragonfly, the Manitoba premieres of Linda Griffiths’ Age of Arousal and Nicholas Billon’s Iceland. In addition to Manitoba plays, she was proud to program Canadian plays that would not otherwise have been seen in Winnipeg, such as Daniel David Moses’ Almighty Voice and His Wife, Michael Healey’s Proud and Erin Shields Beautiful Man.
In recent years a new initiative exploring community engaged arts programming with rural Manitobans was developed with Artistic Producer, Andraea Sartison. Their pilot project, The Interlake Chautauqua, was awarded the inaugural Connecting Creative Communities Prize by the Manitoba Arts Council in 2019.
In her final season Ardith, along with Andraea and the TPM staff have spent the pandemic facilitating the creation of 10 new multidisciplinary works for the second rural tour, Chautauqua: The Interlake Trail.
“TPM is a mentoring organization. A place where everyone is actively learning and developing skills. Rea Kavanagh and I learned on the job, we learned with all of those who came to work and play at TPM. We sought to make this company truly sustainable, not static. Remaining true to the spirit of TPM’s authentic role in the community, it is time for new leadership to develop; to seed, build and produce projects that provide artistic development opportunities for a new generation of theatre artists. The artists and the projects take the lead, always.”
“It is impossible to capture in a few words how grateful I am to have worked with so many incredible artists, producers, volunteers, and arts colleagues over the past 15 years. As a Manitoban, many of these relationships have even deeper roots. I am so thankful for, and will miss terribly, my partnership with general manager Rea Kavanagh. Together we set out to reach a common goal; to expand upon the company’s foundational mission and create a fiercely and unapologetically local company where dynamic and necessary new theatre could be created by daring Manitoba artists.” -Ardith Boxall
“15 years ago, Ardith called me to “have a chat about Theatre Projects”. She had a vision of what this company could be if she could increase the capacity. With an inspired pitch and an offer to share her meager salary, both of our bank accounts suffered and the company began to flourish. Her dream began to manifest. This was also one of the biggest gifts I’ve ever received- as with so many artists, Ardith has encouraged my growth as an artist, producer and manager – I’m ever grateful. Ardith has an ability to inspire grit and matches it – our tenacity and determination to elevate this company was practically a competitive sport. She’s also very funny, touchingly vulnerable and full of surprises – the best of partners and an inspired leader. I wish Ardith all the very best things in her next pursuit. I know that whatever she directs her energy toward will grow through her curiosity, passion and her extraordinary artistry. And I will miss her incredibly.” -Rea Kavanagh
Ardith, Rea and the board of directors are working on a Succession Plan as part of the company’s strategic planning this summer. Considerations for the completion of projects under Ardith’s leadership and the company’s plans for next winter’s season will be taken into account in determining Ardith’s departure date. A Search Committee, appropriate timelines and posting for new artistic leadership will be announced in the coming months.
“Ardith, on behalf of all of us at Theatre Projects Manitoba, thank you for your inspired leadership, and many contributions to TPM’s incredibly rich tapestry. You have set the stage for TPM’s ongoing growth and we wish you every joy and future success .Your legacy lives on in the space you have created: not a physical space, but an artistic, intellectual and creative arena where transformation can happen.”
Media Contact: Rea Kavanagh, General Manager [email protected]