Longtime Arts Club Theatre artistic managing director Bill Millerd is in the news this week, for both a national theatre-critics award and for an award he's about to leave as his own legacy.
He was recently named winner of the Herbert Whittaker/Canadian Theatre Critics Association (CTCA) Award for his contribution to theatre in the country.
The prize is named after a founder of the Toronto Drama Bench and Critic Emeritus of The Globe and Mail and is bestowed biennially. The award dates way back to the mid-1970s, and past recipients include such such titans of Canadian theatre as Tomson Highway, Judith Thompson, Ronnie Burkett, Robert Lepage, Brent Carver, and Joy Coghill.
CTCA board member Malcolm Page, the Vancouver theatre critic who nominated Millerd, praised the artistic director for his signature combination of vision and practicality. “He has cleverly educated his mainstream audiences till they are ready for more serious drama,” said Page in a press statement. He also lauded Millerd’s record for nurturing theatre artists, from Morris Panych to Anosh Irani.
“It’s a great pleasure to see Bill Millerd receive the Whittaker Award,” added CTCA President Martin Morrow in the announcement. "Over the years, Mr. Millerd has made the Arts Club the mainstay of Vancouver’s theatre scene, and he’s done it with a canny mix of commercial instincts and creative risk-taking.”
Meanwhile, Millerd, who is set to retire at the end of this season after 46 years, also announced the launching of the Bill Millerd Artist Fund this week. It's a scholarship aimed at helping people in everything from costume design to acting to lighting design to hone their skills and further their craft.
Millerd said in the announcement, “We know that theatre depends on artists developing their craft and on the kind of new voices that we want to have on our stages. Setting up this fund goes a long way towards ensuring that future.”
From now until November 30, each donation to the fund will be matched by the Department of Canadian Heritage.
To boost the fund, the Arts Club will present To Bill, with Love, a tribute performance on Sunday, March 4, 2018 to celebrate Millerd’s career and achievements. The evening of music and performances will be directed by Arts Club veteran Valerie Easton (Bittergirl: The Musical) and written by Deborah Williams of the Mom’s the Word Collective.
The Arts Club announced earlier this year that Ashlie Corcoran would replace Millerd in 2018, when he leaves the institution he's built into Western Canada's largest theatre company .