Our Story

Lineup outside the original Arts Club Seymour Street Stage

The Arts Club Theatre Company is the largest theatre company in Western Canada. Each year, over a quarter of a million people experience the best in professional theatre at its three venues: the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, Granville Island Stage, and Newmont Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre, as well as on tour throughout the province. Its popular productions range from musicals and contemporary comedies to new works and classics. The Arts Club also expands its audiences outside Vancouver through a three-show tour season presented at venues around British Columbia.

The Arts Club of Vancouver was founded in 1958 as a private club for artists, musicians, and actors, and officially became the Arts Club Theatre in 1964 when the company opened its first stage, a converted gospel hall at Seymour Street and Davie. The company's twenty-seven years at Seymour Street are an important part of Vancouver and Canadian theatre history. The 250-seat stage helped launch the careers of Canadian talents such as Michael J. Fox, Bruce Greenwood, Ruth Nichol, Janet Wright, Winston Rekert, Lally Cadeau, Ann Mortifee, and Brent Carver, while introducing Vancouver to works by Canadian playwrights such as Michel Tremblay, David Freedman, and Carol Bolt. Productions by newcomers Sherman Snukal (Talking Dirty), Nicola Cavendish (It's Snowing on Saltspring), Morris Panych (7 Stories), and John Lazarus (The Late Blumer) also had premieres there before going on to become household names in Canadian theatre and film. The original Arts Club Seymour Street Stage was closed for demolition in 1991.

Bill Millerd, with cheque in hand, oversees the Granville Island Stage’s construction

The company added the current Granville Island Stage in 1979, and the smaller Revue Stage next door in 1983. Innovative versions of classics such as Comedy of Errors; colourful Canadian hits such as Billy Bishop Goes to War; dramas like Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune and comedies including Lend Me a Tenor, have brought the Granville Island Stage numerous awards and an excellent community following. The Revue Stage was home to some of Vancouver's all-time favourite musicals, revues, and comedies, including Ain't Misbehavin', before it was leased to the Vancouver Theatre Sports League in 1997. After an extensive renovation, the Revue Stage re-opened as an Arts Club venue in 2010 with the world premiere of Anosh Irani’s My Granny the Goldfish. After five more seasons there, the Arts Club moved the Revue Stage programming to the new Goldcorp Stage at the BMO Theatre Centre in Olympic Village. This innovative stage offers multiple seating configurations, such as thrust, proscenium, alley, and more. The Goldcorp Stage opened in November 2015 with Peter and the Starcatcher, and also housed the premiere production of Onegin in March 2016. In 2020, the Goldcorp Stage was renamed the Newmont Stage.

The Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, in the South Granville neighbourhood, opened to the public with Dean Regan's record-setting production of Swing in October 1998, and it is now considered the company's flagship venue. An intimate version of a Broadway or London classic theatre, this elegant stage has permitted the company to move into the exciting arena of producing larger musicals, 20th-century classics, and acclaimed productions from around the world.

Key facts about the Arts Club:

  • We are the third largest not-for-profit theatre company in Canada—larger than any charitable theatre company in Toronto or Montreal
  • We are British Columbia’s largest non-profit cultural employer—hiring more than 500 artists, staff, and crew to stage up to 20 shows annually
  • We are an incubator for new Canadian theatre—with thriving new play development programs. We have developed and premiered more than one hundred new plays
  • We educate and cultivate students and theatre lovers of all ages—over 2,500 people engage in our education and professional development programs annually
  • We support artists and other arts organizations through professional engagement activities, such as our Company-in-Residence and Emerging Playwright’s Unit—believing firmly that an investment in the industry benefits all
  • We are a major economic driver in the areas surrounding our venues—our theatres attract a quarter million theatre patrons to dine and shop in the South Granville, Olympic Village, and Granville Island neighbourhoods
Artistic Director Emeritus, Bill Millerd

Artistic Director Emeritus
Bill Millerd

No history of the Arts Club would be complete without a mention of Bill Millerd, Artistic Director Emeritus. A graduate of the University of British Columbia and the National Theatre School, Bill first joined the Arts Club in 1969 as a stage manager and remained in the role of Artistic Managing Director from 1972 until his retirement in 2018. During his tenure, Bill expanded the company’s operations to include year-round programming and regional and national tours. Bill oversaw the construction of two theatres on Granville Island—the Granville Island Stage, in the fall of 1979, and the Revue Stage, in 1983—and the reopening of the historic Stanley Theatre, now the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage, in 1998. In partnership with Bard on the Beach and the Vancouver International Wine Festival, Bill was also instrumental in the 2015 opening of the BMO Theatre Centre and the Newmont Stage in Olympic Village. Under Bill’s leadership, the company produced 500 plays, including more than 120 Canadian works. He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1994 and the Order of BC in 2018 for his contribution to Canadian theatre.


Annual Report

Read the Arts Club Theatre Company's 2019/2020 Annual Report for insights on the 2019/2020 season, including: production stats, financials, awards, and information on our youth education and new play development programs.

This Is Something Else

This Is Something Else podcast

Listen to our 5-part podcast series here! Episodes can also be heard on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and most everywhere podcasts are available.

APRIL 7
Episode 1: The Opening Chord
Transcript

APRIL 14
Episode 2: The Event

APRIL 21
Episode 3: The Walls Have Stories

APRIL 28
Episode 4: Inside/Outside

MAY 5
Episode 5: The Future

ABOUT THE PODCAST

This Is Something Else: Consciously Eclectic Histories of the Arts Club is a 5-part podcast series exploring more than 50 years of Vancouver’s theatre scene and the making of Canada’s largest non-for-profit urban theatre company. Created and hosted by documentary theatremaker Andrew Kushnir, this Arts Club-commissioned project takes a distinct approach to history. This Is Something Else focuses less on dates and events, and casts a focused eye (and ear) to the complex relationships between people, places, and big ideas.

Over the course of five episodes, Kushnir explores a wide range of themes and topics, culled from over 72 hours of original interviews with 43 artists, historians, administrators, and patrons. Featured guests and interviewees include Bill Millerd, Anosh Irani, Kim Collier, Morris Panych, Donna Wong, Ann Mortifee, Omari Newton, Jerry Wasserman, Marcus Mosely, Katrina Dunn, and many others. The podcast examines the Arts Club’s history, from its beginnings at the Seymour Street Theatre to its current status. It shines a light on the remarkable women who fought for Vancouver’s cultural institutions and some of the Arts Club’s noteworthy ups and downs. Kushnir also delves into the cultural forces that have had a hand in forming the Vancouver professional theatre ecology, be it the counterculture movement of the 60s, the city’s real estate market, artists’ relationship to the land, or the global pandemic we currently find ourselves in.

CREATIVE TEAM

Creator and Host Andrew Kushnir
Podcast Assistant and EDI Consultant Preeti Dhaliwal
Sound Designer Kevin Gault
Music Composed by The Golden Age of Wrestling

THANK YOU

This Is Something Else is generously supported by ITC Construction Group, BMO Financial Group, KPMG, BFL Canada, and longtime patron Lee Grills. We would also like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver for their ongoing support.

Board of Directors, Arts Club Theatre Company

Bryan Mabee, Chair
Bryan first became involved with the Arts Club when a friend brought him to the theatre in 2006. He had no idea that the theatre would become such an integral part of his life. Bryan has served as a director on the board since 2013 and as Chair since December 2020. Bryan was born in Montreal but grew up in Toronto. Following the love of his life, he moved to Ottawa to study economics and geography at Carleton University. Bryan moved to Vancouver in the mid-1990s. Now, Vice-President and Portfolio Manager at National Bank Financial, Bryan has vast experience working in the financial services sector. In his nearly 25-year career, Bryan has worked at both domestic and international financial institutions. When he is not behind his desk, Bryan enjoys being active outdoors. He is especially passionate about being on the water and spends most of his weekends on his boat. Bryan has competed in numerous triathlons, the ½ Ironman, and the Whistler Grandfondo. Bryan lives in Vancouver with his wife, TerriLynn Ray. They have two sons and a dog.

Art Vertlieb, Vice Chair
Art has been on the Arts Club board of directors since 2017 and is currently the Vice Chair. Art went to the University of Arizona on a music scholarship, obtained his law degree from Osgoode Hall, and was called to the Bar in British Columbia in 1973. He has been in private practice in Vancouver since that time and serves as General Counsel to the Canadian Football League Players Association. In 2013, Art was President of the Law Society of British Columbia and has served as President of the Trial Lawyers of BC. He was the Founding Chair of the Lawyers Assistant Program (LAP) and has been recognized by the Law Society, the Trial Lawyers, and the LAP for his outstanding leadership and service. Art has also been honoured by Osgoode Hall Law School as a distinguished alumnus and was presented with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal. In addition to his service in the legal profession, Art has been active in community sports and UBC Hockey, and he has a keen interest in promoting and serving the arts community in BC.

John Dawson, Treasurer
John has been a member of the Arts Club board since 2015. John was born and raised in Vancouver, graduating from UBC with a BComm in 1964. He went on to qualify as a Chartered Accountant, training with Coopers & Lybrand where he served as a partner in the Assurance practice for 29 years. John worked mainly in the Vancouver office but did stints in both London, England, and the executive office in Toronto. After retiring in 2001, he joined a number of public company boards of directors, providing financial and governance advice to management. John is married with two sons and three grandchildren; one son is a Senior Editor at the Vancouver Sun, while the other is a professional producer, writer, and slide guitar player with his studio in Nashville, Tennessee.

Suzanne James, Secretary
Suzanne has been on the Arts Club board of directors since 2018. Suzanne obtained a BComm (honours) from Queen’s University and received her Chartered Accountant designation two years later. With a passion for travel as well as the arts, Suzanne embarked on an international financial services career, working in the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, South East Asia, and Australia. While working and living in these countries, Suzanne has been actively involved in the not-for-profit sector. Suzanne returned to Canada in 2012 and quickly embraced the Vancouver lifestyle—as an avid skier and hiker, as well as supporting the arts community.

Wanda Costuros
Wanda was appointed to the Arts Club board in 2019. Wanda is a retired financial executive, with extensive experience in corporate governance in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Wanda has held several board and committee roles, including BC Hydro (Director and Chair of Finance and Audit), Powerex Inc. (Chair and Director), Land Title and Survey Authority (Chair), Seven Seas Fish Company (Chair of Advisory Committee), Art in Motion Income Fund (Director and Chair of Audit Committee), Science World (Director and Chair of Audit Committee), and YWCA (Director). Prior management roles include Chief Financial Officer of Xantrex Technology, Fletcher Challenge Pulp, and Timberwest Inc. Wanda is a CPA (CMA) and received her MBA at Simon Fraser University, receiving the Dean’s Medal in 1995. She was also awarded a Women of Influence by Business in Vancouver. Wanda is also a director on the board of The Hieros Foundation.

Brenda Crabtree (Xyolholemo:t)
Brenda joined the Arts Club board in 2021. Brenda has both Nlaka’pamux and Sto:lo ancestry and belongs to the Spuzzum Band. Brenda is the Director of Aboriginal Programs and Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Brenda is an anthropologist, educator, community facilitator, and cultural advisor. She is also an artist, curator, and mentor. Brenda received her BA and MA (Cultural Anthropology) from Western Washington University. She was honoured by the BC Achievement Foundation in 2016 as an enduring champion for Indigenous artists and has been a key figure in developing groundbreaking programs. In her art practice, Brenda fuses Northwest Coast First Nations materials and traditions with political texts. Brenda’s material practice is a vehicle for political activism, bridging art, politics, and history. Brenda serves in an advisory capacity for the City of Vancouver Arts + Culture Committee, the BC Creative Achievement Foundations, First Nations Art Advisory, and the Bill Reid Gallery. Brenda also serves on the board of directors of the YVR (Vancouver Airport) Art Foundation.

Eugen Klein
Eugen joined the Arts Club board in 2014. Eugen is Principal of Klein Group, Royal LePage Sussex, one of the top 10 national brokerage teams by Royal LePage Canada, specializing in commercial, project marketing and residential real estate brokerage services. Eugen has more than 24 years of experience in real estate investment and property management. Corporate consulting, investment acquisition, and land development are his fortes. In addition to his real estate practice, Eugen serves on a number of for-profit and not-for-profit boards, including the Land Title Survey Authority of BC. Eugen also served as President and spokesperson of the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver in 2012–2013. Eugen holds the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. He was recognized with the “Top 40 Under 40” award by Business in Vancouver in 2013 and was the recipient of the Bentall Kennedy Literary Award in 2010. Eugen graduated from UBC with a BComm in Urban Land Economics.

Aaron Kueng
Aaron joined the Arts Club board in 2019. Aaron is Regional Vice President, Personal Banking for BC North, East, and Yukon at BMO Bank of Montreal. Aaron has accountabilities in the areas of finance, customer loyalty, compliance, and team engagement. Aaron has a brand of tackling issues, innovating, and helping others succeed. Aaron consistently earns top results for strong team engagement. This engagement translates into top team performance. Aaron has a deep appreciation for music and design, which fuels his keen interest in the theatre community. BC-born and -raised, Aaron is a longtime Vancouver resident. When he’s not working or enjoying music and theatre, Aaron can be found in the yoga studio or on the Stanley Park Seawall.

Sandra R. MacKay, J.D.
Sandra joined the Arts Club board in 2019. A business lawyer and corporate governance specialist, Sandra is currently the Vice President, Legal & Governance and Corporate Secretary of E-Comm Emergency Communications for British Columbia Limited (the provider of 911 services to the Province and police and fire dispatch services to police and fire departments in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island). Prior to assuming her current role, Sandra headed the legal department of the Provincial Health Services Authority of BC and BC Emergency Health (Ambulance) Services, most recently as Vice-President, Legal, Privacy and Risk and Corporate Secretary. Before working in the public safety and health sectors, Sandra served as in-house counsel to public companies, and advisor to their board of directors, in several industries including downstream oil and gas, mining, engineering technology, and biotechnology. Sandra also serves on two corporate boards of directors in the mining sector. Sandra is a graduate of the UBC Law School and a member of the UBC Sports Hall of Fame. Sandra is a member of the BC Law Society and the Canadian Institute of Corporate Directors.

Heather McKay
Heather has been on the Arts Club board since 2017. Heather brings deep experience in human resources, change management, and communications. She has an MBA from UBC and has worked at an executive level in several industries including technology, professional services, and commercial real estate firms. Prior to her tenure with the Arts Club, Heather did work with other non-profits, including the Canadian Cancer Society, the YWCA, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Shane Simpson
Shane Simpson joined the Arts Club board in 2021. Shane retired from elected political life in 2020 after four terms, commencing in 2005, as the MLA for Vancouver Hastings and serving as Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction in the BC government, from 2017 through 2020. Shane has spent more than 45 years engaged in community service in Vancouver with a wide range of organizations, including Director of Policy & Communications for Smart Growth BC, Chair of the Vancouver City Planning Commission, Legislative Coordinator for CUPE BC, and director of both the Worker Ownership Resource Centre and the Ray-Cam Cooperative Association. He also served as Executive Assistant to Margaret Mitchell MP for Vancouver East. In recognition of his efforts, in 1992 he was awarded the Governor General’s 125th Anniversary Commemorative Medal for Community Service and in 2002 the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for community service. Born and raised in the Downtown Eastside, Shane continues to live in East Vancouver with his wife, Cate, and four cats.

Shawn Williamson
Shawn joined the Arts Club board in 2017. Shawn is one of the North America’s most highly regarded entertainment executives, internationally known for his creative and corporate success. Based in Vancouver, Shawn has more than 30 years of experience working in entertainment and has produced numerous award-winning films and television shows. Shawn began his career as a stage manager at the Arts Club in 1983 and has since gone on to produce more than one hundred film and television projects through his company Brightlight Pictures. Selected credits include the features 50 Dead Men Walking (Ben Kingsley, Jim Sturgess), The Company You Keep (Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf), The Interview (Seth Rogen, James Franco), White Noise (Michael Keaton), and the series Mighty Ducks (Disney), Upload (Amazon), and Firefly Lane (Netflix). Shawn is currently producing The Good Doctor (Sony Pictures and ABC).

Council of Governors

Roberta Beiser
President Edith Lando Charitable Foundation
Philip Bernard
President: StageFab
Director: Bernard & Associates
Director: Q1 Production Technologies
Donna Celle
Project Manager, Westcoast Agenda
Axel Conradi
Assistant Vice President: Canadian Pacific Railway (retired)
Jamie Corbett
President, Canadian Outback Adventure Company Ltd.
Bruce Flexman, FCPA, FCA
President of Advantage BC (retired)
Chris Gimpel
Partner, Tax Deloitte LLP
Stanley Hamilton
Professor Emeritus, Urban Land Economics, Sauder School of Business, UBC
Catharine Herb-Kelly, Q.C.
Associate Counsel, Branch MacMaster
Bruce Milley
Grant Thornton (retired)
Morris Nord
Senior Vice President, Marketing & Client Development (retired)
Ross Paul, C.M., PhD
Adjunct Professor, Centre for Policy Studies in Higher Education and Training, UBC
Joan Pitman
Janet Rogers
President
Wine and Food Travel
Al C. Schultz
Lisa Seed
Branch Manager, HSBC Bank Canada
Jim Storie
President and CEO, Vancouver Trolley Company (retired)
John J. Sutherland
CFO and Vice President, Human Resources Canada Jetlines Ltd

Board of Directors, Arts Club of Vancouver Theatre Foundation

Lisa Seed
President
Branch Manager
HSBC Bank Canada
Jamie Bruce
Treasurer
Partner
Capital West Partners
Carol Humphrys
Secretary
Lawyer
Jamie Corbett
President
Canadian Outback Adventure Company Ltd.
Suzanne James, CPA, CA
Chief of Business Analytics
Connor, Clark and Lunn Financial Group
Bonnie Mah
Senior Administrator
Bilsland Griffith Benefit Administrators
Glenn Powers
Senior Lecturer
Simon Fraser University

Senior Management

Ashlie Corcoran Artistic Director
Peter Cathie White Executive Director
Kathy MacKenzie Managing Director
Sylvia Lanz, CPA, CGA Director of Finance & Systems
Ace Martens Director of Production
Kevan Ellis Director of Education
Peter Chapek Guest Services Manager
Jack Holmes Facilities Manager
Teddy Forsyth Executive Business Manager

July 2, 2020

As leaders of the Arts Club, we strive to be kind, clear, and fair employers, creating a home for talented staff whom we value, develop, and retain. We are committed to fostering a welcoming, supportive and creative place for artists – to be an incubator where artists create exceptional work fully reflective of our community. We seek to have a culture that crackles with positivity, a generosity of spirit, and a willingness to engage with difficult content and conversations.

As the whole theatre sector experiences this intermission from staging shows, we want to take this opportunity to learn more about people’s experiences at the Arts Club and explore where there are barriers to inclusion within the company—including those created by systemic racism. Our job is to listen to ongoing conversations and to engage in a deep examination of our past and current working practices, so that we can improve and build bridges for the future.

As leaders of the Arts Club we are committed to these direct actions:

  1. Collaborating with paid BIPOC artists, we are currently engaging our teams in conversations about systemic racism – to uncover how it exists within the organization, and to take specific and strategic actions to dismantle it. Our goal through these conversations is to create a culture where we all have agency and accountability for this ongoing work. The first step, made clear by this process, will be the creation of an Anti-Racism Policy for all employees.
  1. We are engaging local theatre artist and activist Omari Newton as our Community Liaison throughout the summer. Omari will focus on practices of inclusion at the Arts Club, foster our relationship with the professional theatre community, and make specific recommendations and plans for the company.
  1. We will hire an Accessibility Coordinator to provide guidance and counsel on accessibility at the Arts Club, and to aid in the creation of inclusive programs for persons with disabilities, including artists, audiences and staff. We are grateful that this position has been made possible through funding from the British Columbia Arts Council; it will be in place for the 2020–2021 season.
  1. We will create and grow a designated fund within our endowment to be used for anti-racist and inclusive activities throughout the organization. We are excited to share more about this fund soon.
  1. We will undertake an internal audit to collect comprehensive data about the diversity of our past and current teams, including staff, artists and board members. This data will be used to assess how we have, or have not, reflected the diversity of our community and whether people of all characteristics have had equitable access to opportunity. We will assess shortcomings and successes, and use these findings to meaningfully and thoughtfully create processes, take actions, and hold ourselves accountable.
  1. We understand that not everyone is comfortable speaking candidly to their past, present, or potential employers. We will be establishing a third-party confidential disclosure process that will create a safe space for artists and staff to speak about their experiences either working at or gaining access to employment at the Arts Club. While this process can be used to seek information to address a specific concern (when possible), the primary outcome is to identify themes and barriers to equity and inclusion in the company’s practices and workplace culture. This report will anonymize feedback and contribute to the development of a detailed action plan for accountability. These findings and our resulting plan will be part of an ongoing examination and bettering of our working practices and culture. At this point, we are putting together the third-party confidential disclosure process and more information about this timeline will be shared as soon as we have it.

In order to foster and grow transparency, we will publicly share reports of the work detailed above, including:

  • Recommendations and actions from our internal departmental work
  • Recommendations from our Community Liaison
  • Recommendations from our Accessibility Coordinator
  • Findings from our internal audit
  • Findings from the third-party confidential disclosure report

After the public has had time to read and consider these reports, we will host a Community Forum. At the forum, details of the reports will be shared and there will be an opportunity for community discussion.

The Arts Club strives to be a space for the community; a space where, through imagination and storytelling, we are able to have compassion and empathy for others. And so, the Arts Club must be a safe space for all members of this community. We are committed to doing the work to uncover the barriers that exist to engagement with the Arts Club, and we are committed to dismantling them.

Sincerely,

Ashlie Corcoran, Artistic Director
Peter Cathie White, Executive Director