With heartfelt gratitude for her enthusiastic and unwavering commitment to the Manitoba theatre community, the Board of Directors of Theatre Projects Manitoba is announcing the imminent departure of our beloved General Manager, Rea Kavanagh.
“Rea has been a driving force behind the growth in creativities and communities at Theatre Projects Manitoba. She is leaving a thriving company, one that has flourished in the years she has nurtured, built, and stewarded it. We will certainly miss her very capable and calm organization, her constant positive presence and kindness despite often having to operate in many directions at once while dealing with whatever challenges arose (and there were many). I want to take this moment to thank her both personally and on behalf of the Board for all that she has done for the company and the community, and to wish her the greatest of success in her next endeavor.” -Bill Kerr, Board Chair
Rea’s History With TPM
Rea started with the company in 2006 as an Artistic Associate and through her tireless dedication and gutsy leadership, created the position of General Manager in 2010 in which she has faithfully served for the past 13 seasons with remarkable results:
●Growing the overall company budget four-fold.
●Helping TPM secure stabilizing multi-year funding with all levels of government and within the private sector.
● Increasing combined support from the private sector and individual donations by 725%.
● Procuring two new office spaces (first in 2006 and again in 2022) as the company grew.
● Mentoring many young artists in artistic administration.
Throughout her tenure, Rea has made all the magic possible. She worked tirelessly to ensure TPM had the equipment, software and systems that were crucial to conducting the operations of an arts organization. Rea found the money for administrative growth outside the artistic budget. Never wanting to put less than all TPM’s resources on the stage, she found and nurtured the most committed and generous sponsors who invested in the company’s infrastructure. From databases to critical technological support, to furniture for the office and the stage, Rea increased the circle of community support transforming sponsors into our biggest fans. Nothing was sweeter to Rea than turning people on to Theatre Projects Manitoba.
“Theatre Projects Manitoba is my home team and my heart team. When Ardith invited me to join the company, though I had little idea what I was getting into, I knew that I wanted to be with TPM. Like many local artists, this was where I had my first professional experience…it has always been a place to learn and grow. I didn’t understand spreadsheets or budgets and I had never asked anyone for money before…what a leap it was to give me this opportunity! But TPM has always been a place that says YES! I’m so happy to have supported that culture and so many incredible projects over the years. I’m deeply grateful to the artists and the volunteers and the many patrons and sponsors who opened themselves to this scrappy happy place and taught me so much. I would especially like to thank Suzie and Ardith and the many staff past and present who supported me with open hearts and humour. Thanks to the many Board members past and present who took great leaps and shepherded this company with us. Manitoba artists need all the champions they can get, and I have been truly honoured to have been among them.” -Rea Kavanagh
With Rea’s hard work and co-leadership supporting the artistic integrity of the company, Theatre Projects Manitoba has become known for:
● Programming plays that provoke conversation and dialogue. Bringing new voices and experiences into the spotlight and continuing to give local playwrights a platform – 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!
● Ambitious partnerships on large-scale shows highlighting the talent and vision of Manitoba theatre artists.
● Ground-breaking community partnerships, touring, and outreach including several works with Native Earth Performing Arts (Almighty Voice and His Wife, The Triple Truth and Huff), Debbie Patterson’s Sargent & Victor &Me, and The Interlake Chautauqua, which was awarded the inaugural Connecting Creative Communities Prize by the Manitoba Arts Council in 2019.
Her belief in robust community support for the arts was the driving force behind some of TPM’s most ambitious productions. Always striving to give playwrights the production support that would elevate their work, Rea brought community donors into the TPM fold and treasured the relationships that flourished. Creating and hosting welcoming events, spending time on the phone with so many supporters, discussing the art, digging into the shared experience of each production, Rea created the conditions for participation and celebration by all who contributed to TPM’s mission.
“I close my eyes and see Rea and I sitting in the original tiny TPM office. It was a closet. One desk, one computer, a low ceiling and lack of oxygen. Rea very calmly identifying that Theatre Projects Manitoba needed room to grow, and that we would find a way to pay for a proper office, and that the community would support us in this bold move. I worried about spending money on the dream. Rea didn’t. She knew it was a critical step forward. This early act of faith set the tone for the beautiful bold work that followed, and that spirit runs deeply in the company to this day. Rea has made so many dreams come true. Her love for wild creativity combined with an instinctive administrative savvy has served TPM so well. For almost two decades she has dedicated her own career to local artists; moving mountains to give them the robust production support to get their dreams on the stage. Our work together at TPM was made possible because of her passionate commitment to a shared vision and unshakable belief in local artists. She has been an inspiring leader, a champion of theatre and her contribution to TPM is boundless.” -Ardith Boxall, Former Artistic Director
In the middle of a pandemic and a social reckoning Rea stewarded TPM through its first leadership transition in 17 years and has continued over the past year to pour huge energy and love into making sure TPM is set up to continue the success she was so instrumental in creating over her years of fiercely faithful service.
Rea has set a high bar for executive leadership that goes far beyond administration and fiscal management to true stewardship of arts practice and human relationships.
“My wish for every first-time AD is that they be greeted by a General Manager who is as brilliant, passionate, savvy, grounded, and kind as Rea—I couldn’t have asked for a better co-leader and a more graceful guide for the first year of my tenure. A former board member said of Rea that her energy could heat the whole building—and in many ways, it has. Above all, her unfailing ability to say yes to creative risk allows those of us in the Artistic chair to dream expansively. I have a note pinned to my bulletin board that Rea slid onto my desk in my first month on the job (I had asked how many days of workshopping were in the budget to support a new script)—the note simply reads, ‘Do what you need. All is possible.’ That’s Rea.” -Suzie Martin, Artistic Director
Rea is a consummate champion of artists and community, and we are so pleased to send her off with all our support into her next adventure of service.