Grand Theatre Announces Operating Surplus for 2020/21 Season

November 22, 2021 – London ON – At the 2020/21 Annual General Meeting (AGM) held today, Deb Harvey, Executive Director, announced an operating surplus of $4,619 for the 2020/21 season – bringing the theatre’s accumulated surplus to a total of $584,624.

This announcement marks a significant achievement for the Grand, as the Theatre experienced an historic year, which included: a province-wide shut down; a thorough examination of, and commitment to, dismantling systemic practices of racism; a $9.5 million renovation; zero earned revenue; and the procurement of additional theatre real estate.

“2020/21 was a year unlike any other in the history of the Grand Theatre,” says Harvey. “Our theatre, our industry, and our world have just weathered an unimaginable and historical shut down. Every single plan, program, and practice has been upended, lost, or transformed, and we have been called upon to pivot, adapt, modify, and withstand the unthinkable. And the Grand has done just that.”

Supporting his colleague’s sentiments, Dennis Garnhum, Grand Theatre Artistic Director, affirms, “This year was marked by creative pivots and re-imaginings. With no public performances held in our theatre, we were able to make this a “discovery” year as we adapted to online performances and experiences. This will certainly be remembered as one of the most unusual years of performance in the Grand’s long history.”

These sentiments, along with other seasonal and operational highlights, were shared at the Theatre’s annual AGM. This year, the meeting was held online, via Zoom, and attended by members of the Grand’s Board of Directors, donors, sponsors, volunteers, and staff.


  • To adapt to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Theatre produced three complimentary virtual performances: The High School Project, the historic Un-Opening Night Celebration, and the Grand’s annual holiday show, Comfort and Joy.
    • In early Fall 2020, the High School Project saw 74 students log on from home twice per week for five weeks to explore all aspects of theatre making. The experience culminated in a theatrical pitch to senior staff from participating students.
    • To mark the 50th season as a professional company, the Grand hosted a virtual Un-Opening Night Celebration. This momentous first for the Grand created an online musical experience, which welcomed performances by Tess Benger and Alexis Gordon. It also included sneak previews, conversations with artists, and exciting RENO2020 updates.
    • Comfort and Joy saw an impressive 5,000 people tune in live on December 22 to enjoy a 45-minute compilation of nine, short, holiday videos. In addition, the Grand was proud to continue its partnership with the London Food Bank for the fourth year, and raised over $10K for a four-year total of over $300,779.
      100% of these funds have been directed to the London Food Bank.
  • To reach out to online audiences in a new and unique way, in the fall of 2020, the Grand launched a podcast series titled, Grand Walks.  Spearheaded by Technical Director, Daniel Bennett, this interview-based series encouraged listeners to explore new communities and landmarks in London by hearing the stories of the people who live and work in Forest City neighbourhoods. From the six episodes created, 1,792 views were garnered.
  • The COMPASS new play development program, launched in November 2016, continued to move forward virtually with the ongoing development of Grand Ghosts, by Trina Davies and Homes: A Refugee Story, based on the novel with the same name by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung. The Grand’s commitment to raising funds for the COMPASS program continues to be a priority for the theatre.
  • In early 2021, the Grand Launched Company Conversations, a pilot project for staff anchored in the Theatre’s ongoing Anti-Oppression work. All staff gathered on Zoom for seven bi-weekly sessions to analyze six plays, and to hear from guest speakers, including Artistic Director of Indigenous NAC, Kevin Loring, and playwright, Andrea Scott.
  • Throughout the shutdown, the Grand provided employment for 82 people (down from 280 the previous year) and contributed over $2.5M in salaries and benefits. Of goods and services purchased, 40%, or $250,508 was spent locally, making a strong contribution to the local economy. Again, this was down from $900,736 spent locally last year.
  • BMO returned as the Grand’s Season Sponsor, Canada Life as Title Sponsor for Comfort and Joy, and Libro Credit Union renewed their support as Lead Community Partner of the Grand’s Make a Difference youth programming initiatives – supporting the Online High School Project as Title Sponsor.

Led by Season Sponsor, BMO Financial Group, sponsors, donors, and community supporters generated $601,694 (12% revenue) in contributions for the 2020/21 season, demonstrating the continued and dedicated support of our patrons.

The Grand Theatre gratefully acknowledges the support of our government funders: the City of London, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts. In the 2020/21 season, this support accounted for 22% of total revenue (13%, 2019/20).

In fiscal year 2020/21, and in response to COVID-19, special government funding through Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), and $297K provided by the Ontario Arts Council in special COVID-19 emergency support, totalled 1.68M or 32% of total revenue – up from 6% in 2019-2020.

The Grand remains grateful to its government partners and for the continued support of its many sponsors, community partners, and donors.

The continued support of government partners and private donors also made projects like RENO2020 possible. This ground-breaking $9.5M project to update, modernize, and “make room” for an open, inclusive, and dynamic audience experience began in August 2020, with a majority of the work completed by summer 2021.

At the last AGM of her tenure as Executive Director, the Grand Board of Directors and members thanked Deb Harvey for her leadership, passion, and steadfast dedication to the Theatre for the past 22 years.

Reflecting on Harvey’s remarkable tenure, Anita Shah, President of the Grand Theatre Board of Directors said: “It is incredibly difficult to think of the Grand Theatre and not immediately think of Deb. When she arrived 22 years ago from the East Coast, Deb very quickly was able to weave herself within the fabric of this city. Many know that Deb is a strong financial leader, which she aptly displayed by ensuring that for almost every season, the Grand Theatre experienced an operating surplus. But, what so many don’t know is the immeasurable impact she has had on the city through her volunteer work and her ability to seamlessly make connections. Our theatre and our city are a better place because of Deb, and we will be forever thankful for her tenacious, yet calm spirit, her devotion to artists and the arts, and her friendship.”


About the Grand Theatre – World Curious. London Proud.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dennis Garnhum and Executive Director
Deb Harvey, the Grand is a leading cultural hub located in the heart of downtown London, Ontario. The Grand offers diverse, relevant, and original stories from around the globe through collaborations with national and international performing arts organizations and is committed to developing, producing, and premiering original stories through its COMPASS New Play Development program. The Grand supports educational programming through initiatives like the High School Project and Subsidized Student Matinees. The Grand finalized the $9.5 million renovation to its lobby spaces and backstage areas in Fall 2021. After the cancellation of its 2020-21 Season in June 2020 due to the global pandemic, the Grand officially reopens its doors in November 2021.

For more information please contact:
Caitlin Core, Communications Manager
ccore [at] (ccore[at]grandtheatre[dot]com)
519-672-9030 ext. 411