Western Canada Theatre managing director Evan Klassen is leaving the theatre company to take on the role of executive director of The Grand Theatre in London, Ont.
Klassen, who spent four years in Kamloops, will begin his new position in Ontario on Aug. 29. Anita Shah, president of The Grand Theatre’s board of directors in London, said Klassen clearly stood out among a strong field of candidates.
“It is with mixed emotion we say farewell to Evan. His tremendous contribution since his arrival in 2018 was significant and will undoubtedly be a big role to fill,” WCT board president Beverley DeSantis said.
“During Evan’s time with us, the organization has seen greater financial stability, standardized operating procedures and enriched internal programs. Evan has been a confident leader as we dealt with structural issues at Sagebrush and the devastating effects of COVID on the theatre sector. On behalf of the board of directors, we wish Evan much success in his new role and are extremely happy to know that Kamloops will remain his home for the foreseeable future.”
Klassen arrived at WCT from his hometown of Winnipeg, bringing with him a diverse background of skills in theatre administration, stage management, policy development, venue operations and arts advocacy.
While at WCT, Klassen also volunteered with many organizations, including the BC Arts Council, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, the BC Interior Community Foundation and the Kamloops Centre for the Arts Society.
Prior to his arrival at WCT, Klassen served as director of artistic operations and production at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and as board chair for the Seven Oaks House Museum. He also sat on the boards of Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, the Winnipeg Arts Council and Manitobans for the Arts.
“I’m going to miss Western Canada Theatre and the Kamloops community dearly,” Klassen said. “The memories built over the past four years at WCT will be treasured for years to come. I’m immensely proud of all that WCT has undertaken, the strong team we have built, the new Indigenous and Canadian works that have premiered here and all the artists, staff, artisans and volunteers who have lent us their talents. I’ll be leaving the organization with a clear path for the year ahead, a soon-to-be-newly-minted strategic plan and in the capable hands of our artistic director, James MacDonald, our skilled senior leadership team and my future successor, who will boldly bring this organization forward, together.”
During Klassen’s tenure, WCT delivered four successive budget surpluses, retired the accumulated deficit, built financial reserves to ensure future stability and grew the annual operating budget to $3.1 million.
“Through his hard work, creativity, financial acumen and passion for theatre, Evan has made an indelible mark on Western Canada Theatre through several challenging years and leaves the organization in outstanding shape,” MacDonald said.
The board of directors has struck a hiring committee that will commence the search for WCT’s new managing director in the coming weeks. Details of the recruitment process soon will be announced soon.