Arkady Spivak continues to re-imagine theatre

by Lynn on October 15, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Today Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak announced a consortium program of emerging voices in artistic direction and curation, as well as a restructuring for Talk Is Free Theatre.

Bigger Than BIG Over the last year, together with our Artist BIG cohort (40 artists who are receiving a minimum financial guarantee over the next three years), we have had many conversations about requirements for new types of leadership and new governance structures through which to build a stronger, healthier theatre ecology. And although we have provided a number of artistic producing internships over the years, we needed something bigger that would not only give the next generation of curatorial leaders a welcome environment to formulate their voice, but, together, affect a much bigger change – says Artistic Producer Arkady Spivak.

  Bigger Than BIG will provide seven emerging artistic leaders with an opportunity to work together on new managerial visions, and fresh ideas of governance structures and support systems. At the same time, each participant will develop an artistic practice, a company, or a program of their own. For example, they may also wish to develop their own theatre company under the auspices of the Bigger Than BIG program, be equipped to join an existing organization as an artistic director, or choose to apply the knowledge in a different career path altogether. Artists will be supported with professional salaries in their work, and additional budgets as may be required by their projects.

Organizational Restructuring Taking advantage of this project, TIFT will also re-assign its own staff structure, for the first time since the company’s founding 20 years ago. Michael Torontow will step into the role of Artistic Director of TIFT’s existing scope of work. Torontow is a long-time leading actor, director and project manager with TIFT and beyond, who is also one of the seven inaugural Bigger than BIG artists. Torontow will report to the Founding Artistic Producer, Arkady Spivak, who will move into a CEO role, responsible for the overall strategic direction of Talk Is Free Theatre and Bigger Than BIG.

  Our Board of Directors is thrilled to support the Bigger Than BIG program and to welcome this cohort of artists. This project is another example of TIFT’s commitment to celebrating artists as the multi-faceted creators that they are, and providing platforms for an important diversity of voices. With these artists working in tandem we are confident that Talk Is Free Theatre will not only remain one of Canada’s most innovative theatre companies, but will further transform the paradigm of all that a theatre company can be, and can encompass. -Betony Main, TIFT Board of Directors
Seven Inaugural Artists of Bigger Than BIG include:

Noah Beemer “For me, what is really exciting about this initiative is the opportunity to explore new ways of working and ultimately producing theatre/the arts. I’m interested in investigating how we can best support one another both in the room and onstage, and in doing so make the most thrilling art we are capable of!”

Alexis Gordon
“My hope, my dream – through my own experiences, moments, and obstacles as a performer in this industry – is to strengthen our community with better tools of communication.  If communicating an idea or story is the base of most art, we, in the theatre industry, deserve so much more support. Working with TIFT on the beginnings of our Two-Way Mentorship Program and Community Safe Space Project Initiative the past few months, has grounded me in goals that are based in the humans in our rooms, our community, alongside the art. What happens when we make an investment in the group, in kindness, in giving and in sharing together? What can we create if our leaders, and if each member, is strengthened with communication tools and better support? That is the leader I want to learn to be through this initiative: to bring together, to listen more and learn, to support and to share with each artist and creator I meet.”

Gabe Maharjan “I hope we will trade the comfort and security we find in established systems in exchange for the vitality that is the continual process of reconstructing the structures.”

Joe Pagnan “I am elated to be given this opportunity of creativity focused on eco-poethos; our inextricable relation of space and identity. I hope through explorations centred on rural and environmental experiences to reinvest appreciation of natural phenomena not always easy to witness within a theatrical framework. I cannot wait to begin the journey with this esteemed cohort of creators and learners.” 

David Andrew Reid “The role of an Artistic Director comprises at the core: curation and leadership; the art and the people. Through this program I look forward to developing my voice as an artistic leader: learning how I may use myself to facilitate a brave space of artistic expression and development for others and also a brave space of operating and existing in the theatre industry.”

Merlin Simard “What are the ways that we can reimagine structures of artistic leadership from the ground up? For me, taking part in this program is a means to seek alternative ways to conceive of what it is to curate from a place of equity and care. It’s a commitment to develop a newfound sense of self-awareness over my existing practice.”

Michael Torontow “My journey with Talk Is Free Theatre began nearly eight years ago. In that time, as a TIFT artist, I have quite literally pounded the Barrie pavement, sung operatically as a sheep, played the gutters of London, UK, won awards in Australia, and coaxed crows to caw on cue. My amazement at what TIFT artists can do just grows and grows. I am thrilled to be able to help guide the journey forward and take Arkady’s innovation and care of artists to new heights.”

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.