David Goldbloom, Chair of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's Board of Governors, has announced that Anita Gaffney has been appointed Executive Director.
Ms Gaffney will assume her new post November 1, when General Director Antoni Cimolino takes over the Artistic Directorship from Des McAnuff.
"Anita Gaffney is a star in the world of Canadian arts administration," says Dr. Goldbloom. "We are very lucky to have in our midst such an accomplished leader: someone whose impressive professional qualifications and extensive experience are matched by her deep and abiding love for the Festival. Among her many other assets, Anita brings to the job a keen analytical mind and an unparalleled understanding of the Festival's operations. She is diligent, dedicated, quietly firm and a pleasure to work with. I can think of no one better to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow as the Festival enters the next great phase of its history under Antoni's artistic direction."
Currently serving as Administrative Director, Ms Gaffney has been with the Festival for 21 years. Her previous positions include Director of Marketing during the theatre's years of peak attendance. She designed the Festival's customer relationship marketing system, which remains in use today and has been emulated by arts organizations around the world.
In addition to her marketing expertise, Ms Gaffney is highly regarded for her work in government relations, finance, change management and strategic planning. She is the ideal partner to help Mr. Cimolino realize his vision for the Festival and to lead it through this period of economic difficulty.
"I am thrilled by the opportunity to serve as the Festival's Executive Director and invigorated by the challenge," says Ms Gaffney. "It is a privilege to be able to lead this precious cultural asset alongside our Artistic Director designate, Antoni Cimolino. I look forward to helping strengthen the Festival at home and to taking it beyond its borders, both physically and digitally.
"The Festival has transformed my life. I was introduced to theatre here as a child by my parents and was captivated early on. Since joining the Festival in 1991, I've been inspired by some of the world's most incredibly gifted artists and administrators. Antoni and Des have been particularly generous in sharing their expertise with me and providing me with the opportunity to work on a variety of exciting projects in recent years.
"The Festival is an important part of the country's cultural landscape both for our audiences and our artists. I will work hard to ensure it thrives for the generations to come."
Ms Gaffney has mobilized staff around a variety of projects, ranging from major cost-cutting exercises in 2007, 2009 and 2012 to the Broadway transfer of Jesus Christ Superstar. Her efforts to expand the reach of the Festival into the digital world include supporting the production of the films of Caesar and Cleopatra, The Tempest and Twelfth Night, overseeing the renewal of the Festival's website, the launch of mobile applications and the expansion of the Festival's overall digital presence. In 2011 she conducted a study of digital media best practices among arts organizations in Canada, Chicago, New York and London.
Ms Gaffney was instrumental in galvanizing efforts of the major cultural organizations in Ontario to lobby for a new $27-million Investment Fund to support these organizations during the turbulent economic period between 2010 and 2012.
Ms Gaffney has an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and has continued her executive education through Harvard Business School. She was selected as a member of the Governor General's Leadership Conference in 2008.
Both Mr. Cimolino and Mr. McAnuff extend their congratulations to Ms Gaffney.
"I am very happy for Anita," says Mr. McAnuff. "I am sure she will make a terrific partner for Antoni as he enters his inaugural season."
"I am extremely pleased to hear that our Board of Governors has selected Anita Gaffney as the Festival's Executive Director," says Mr. Cimolino, who will conclude his tenure as General Director at the end of this season. "She is one of the most accomplished, respected and talented arts administrators in Canada today. Anita has built a wide set of relationships with colleagues internationally and her leadership on key issues both in the province and on the national scene has been extremely effective. All those who have worked alongside her know what a pleasure it is to witness her love for the arts, positive mind set and exceptional administrative skills.