– Victor C. Polley Protégé Award presented in tandem for first time –
Toronto, ON (June 8, 2020) – The Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for Outstanding Leadership in Administration (LMJH Award) is an annual award that honours the important work of senior theatre, dance and opera administrators who have devoted a minimum of ten years to the performing arts, in addition to impacting the industry in Toronto. New this year, the LMJH Award is presented in association with the Victor C. Polley Protégé Award which recognizes the work of emerging arts administrators with a minimum of two years of arts work experience, selected by the LMJH Award laureate.
The Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (TAPA) announced today that this year’s recipient of the LMJH Award is the visionary arts manager Monica Esteves, one of the country’s most accomplished and respected artistic leaders, a consummate professional with over 20 years of experience and whose passion for the theatre and exceptional skills in strategic, business and financial planning have elevated the entire theatre community. Ms Esteves named Canadian Stage Company Manager Beth Wong as the recipient of the Victor C. Polley Protégé Award.
In 2019, Ms Esteves was appointed Executive Director at Canadian Stage after serving as Managing Director at Crow’s Theatre for a decade. At Crow’s, she was co-responsible for strategy and capacity planning, resulting in ten years of consistent surpluses, and a successful $12-million capital campaign and construction of a new performing arts facility: Streetcar Crowsnest, which she project managed from inception to facilityopening.
Since joining Canadian Stage a year and a half ago, Monica has been instrumental in creating a comprehensive five-year strategic plan, systematically upgrading the company’s operations as well as overseeing a successful fundraising campaign to support transformationalinitiatives and reduce the company’s deficit by half.
Previously, from 2006 to 2010, Ms Esteves was Managing Director of Nightwood Theatre where she supported the development and promotion of emerging and established women artists regionally and nationally and led the organization through an impressive period of growth as thecompany took on large-scale artistic projects while maintaining its activism.
Throughout her career, Monica made time to mentor countless others. She has done this through formal internships, pro-bono consultations and longstanding relationships with arts leaders whose careers she has nurtured at their early stages. A keen advocate for the arts, she has served on numerous boards of directors and advisories, including the Professional Association of Canadian Theatre (PACT), the Toronto Alliancefor the Performing Arts and East End Arts.
With her generosity of spirit and extraordinary leadership, Monica Esteves is an inspiration to her artistic partners to dream big and, with them, to accomplish much. Her work in the theatre community continues to be transformative.
MONICA ESTEVES: ACCEPTANCE SPEECH FOR THE LEONARD McHARDY AND JOHN HARVEY AWARD FOR OUTSTANDINGLEADERSHIP IN ADMINISTRATION – AMENDED JUNE 8, 2020
Thank you so much for this. I am so touched and honoured to be acknowledged by my peers and beloved artscommunity in Toronto.
Thank you to the late Elizabeth Comper and her estate for making the choice to recognize the people in theproverbial wings.
We are a motley crew and come from many walks of life in passionate service of the art, artists and organizations that share important stories, illuminate new perspectives, push boundaries of all kinds, and connect society andcommunities…even in times of pandemics and physical distancing.
It is particularly meaningful to receive this award that bears the names of both Leonard and John. I grew up in the GTA and, in my teens and early adulthood, I would often make my way to TheatreBooks…feeling the thrill of beingsurrounded by theatre in written form, and just so inspired by the magic of it. At the age of 17 or so, I was preparing my application to NTS. The application included a bunch of work related to play selections and – being the mid-90s and pre-Google – meant I needed to find published Canadian plays. I ventured to TheatreBooks and was so kindly assisted by the staff there, who helped me navigate and select from the Canadian canon at the time. If TheatreBooks hadn’t been so knowledgeable and so kind to a teenage theatre nerd… perhaps I wouldn’t be heretoday.
My 25 years in this community and sector has been filled with inspiration on a daily basis. Much of that inspiration has come from my colleagues. As we all know, nothing about arts management is a one- person band – and I have benefited enormously from extraordinary professional partnerships. I would like to take a moment to thank those partners and friends: Kelly Thornton at Nightwood Theatre (now at MTC), Chris Abraham at Crow’s Theatre, and now Brendan Healy at Canadian Stage. As well, I extend my gratitude to the artists, staff and board volunteers who I have been so honoured to work with and learn from. And thank you to the tireless Jacoba and the fine folk at TAPA for everything they do to promote and celebrate our community and its people.
I would also like to thank my husband Chris and our daughters Rosie and Andie. Though their support andsacrifice, they have buoyed and contributed to my work.
Since the time this speech was written and pre-recorded a couple weeks ago, our world and communities have once again been stopped in its tracks by another pandemic that is far more devastating and deadly: the systemic injustices and racism that perniciously hold up the architecture of oppression, in every aspect of our societies.
Indeed, it is deeply rooted inside our cultural systems, our institutions, and our theatres, and it trickles down into every crack on and around our stages. Organizations, ours included, have responded with statements of solidarity, which should be viewed with justifiable skepticism. Words are important, stories are important, but action isparamount.
Countless artists, creatives and colleagues – at great personal risk and pain – are sharing their stories about what has happened in greenrooms and theatres across the country. They have done so with heartbreaking truth in the pursuit of real change. I am grateful to them and pained by the experiences and by my own neglect and complicity. As a non-racialized member of our cultural sector who holds privilege, I will seek out resources to delve further into this pathway of education and act. I believe our beautiful community, working together, can make a positive difference by making, in our own sector and systems, the change we want to see across theworld, for all time and people to come.