In his final season as artistic managing director of the Arts Club Theatre Company, Bill Millerd has been named as this year’s recipient of the Herbert Whittaker Award for Distinguished Contribution to Canadian Theatre.
Named after a founder of the Toronto Drama Bench and critic emeritus of The Globe and Mail newspaper, the award is bestowed biennially. Dating back to the mid-1970s, past recipients have included such Canadian theatre luminaries as Tomson Highway, Judith Thompson, Jackie Maxwell, Ronnie Burkett, Robert Lepage, Brent Carver, and Joy Coghill.
“Herbert Whittaker set a high mark for theatrical criticism and I am honoured to receive an award in his name,” says Millerd in a media release.
Millerd was nominated by veteran Vancouver theatre critic Malcolm Page, a member of Canadian Theatre Critics Association (CTCA), the organization who hands out the award.
“He has cleverly educated his mainstream audiences till they are ready for more serious drama,” says Page, who also points to Millerd’s record of nurturing theatre artists.
“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,” says CCTA president, Martin Morrow.
The award includes a donation by the CTCA to a charity of the winner’s choice. Millerd has selected the Bill Millerd Artist Fund as the beneficiary.
The newly established endowment fund bearing Millerd’s name will provide artists of all kinds – costume designers, directors, actors, playwrights, stage managers – with a scholarship to hone their craft, push boundaries, and further their skills.
“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,” says Millerd. “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.