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Andrea Vagianos Wins Dora Ancillary Award for Outstanding Leadership in Administration

This award highlights the critical work of operational managers and directors that kept their organizations afloat during the pandemic By Grace Wells-Smith
  • Vagianos / Photo by John Lauener

Today, the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts’ Dora Ancillary Awards were announced. Andrea Vagianos, managing director of Tarragon Theatre, was awarded the Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award for Outstanding Leadership in Administration. 

The Dora Ancillary Awards honour the body of works of artists, as well as the work of administrators. They are typically awarded when the Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations are announced, but those awards have been cancelled this year because live performances have halted during the pandemic. 

Vagianos’s award highlights the work of a senior arts administrator with more than 10 years of experience. Coming at a time when Toronto is slowly reopening after some of the longest and strictest closures in North America, the award also points to the critical work of operational managers and directors that kept their organizations afloat during the pandemic. 

“I am deeply moved to be this year’s recipient of the LMJH Award, and I feel utterly unworthy given the superhuman efforts I’ve witnessed this year,” said Vagianos in her acceptance speech. 

Vagianos started at Tarragon Theatre in 2018. Before that, she was the managing director of Toronto Dance Theatre for eight years, with former artistic director Christopher House. She saw the company’s 50th season – and her final season – through an 11-city tour, and a two-week tour in Colombia. She is credited with leaving the company in one of its strongest financial positions ever. 

Prior to Toronto Dance Theatre, she was the managing director of Dancemakers from 2000 to 2005, with former artistic director Serge Bennathan, where she was instrumental to the company’s move to the Centre for Creation in Toronto’s Distillery District. 

“Andrea’s consummate skills as an astute and resilient community builder, strategic planner, financial manager and overall leader for almost 30 years in the arts community have been evident throughout her long career,” said the Toronto Alliance for the Perfroming Arts’ press release. “She is a true champion of the performing arts.” 

Vagianos was also tasked with naming the recipient of the Victor C. Polley Protégé Award; she named Danielle Parris, an emerging arts manager and educator. Parris has worked with Tarragon Theatre, Luminato Festival and Small World Music. 

During the ceremony, available on YouTube, three other awards were presented. The John Hirsch Director’s Award went to Jani Lauzon, a multidisciplinary artist of Métis ancestry; the Barbara Hamilton Memorial Award went to Soheil Parsa, an award-winning director, writer, dramaturge and teacher; and the Pauline McGibbon Award went to Dillon Orr, an emerging Franco-Ontarian stage director and theatrical producer.

Closing her speech, Vagianos focused on the work that needs to be done to address the systemic inequities that the pandemic has spotlighted within the theatre, dance and opera industries. 

“From the systemic inequities in our industry that keep out those among us who are different, to the need for a basic income to support our artists, who as freelancers, face income insecurity – made abundantly clear by the closure of our theatres,” said Vagianos. 

“I commit to doing my part when we come together again to share in that indescribable alchemical uniqueness of the live performing arts.”

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