Sharyn Ayliffe to take over GM position at Theatre Orangeville

January 16, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Sharyn Ayliffe will be the new General Manager for Theatre Orangeville, beginning in March, 2020. 

“We had over 50 applicants in answer to our notice of invitation to apply for General Manager for the theatre,” said David Nairn, Artistic Director of Theatre Orangeville, in conversation with the Citizen. “The notice spider -webs through the theatre world. We interviewed about 15 applicants – got down to the final strokes. Sharyn was applying; she submitted her application exactly like everyone else. There were initial interviews with the last five.

“We have to do our due diligence,” he stated by way of explaining why Ms. Ayliffe, who had been working for the theatre for some years and was so well known, had to go the same route as all the other applicants. 

“There were terrific people who applied; it was very difficult to choose among them. The process was done by committee, which is the best way but the ultimate decision lies with me. I bear the responsibility for that. So, it was a little bit delayed because of my illness; any road, it is very exciting. She’s going to be sensational at the job and she already knows how TOV works. There were really excellent people who live near at hand – some excellent people.”

For the last several years, Sharyn Ayliffe has been the Program Manager for Theatre Orangeville. 

“One of her first responsibilities will be to replace herself,” Mr. Nairn mentioned. “What a wonderful opportunity to have someone new in that position. She’s been doing it for the last eight years. 

“Sharyn is stepping into very big shoes. I’m very excited for Sharyn and to be working with her – she’s a passionate, an understanding person – the Creative Partners [On Stage] has grown under her management. It {General Manager] is all a ton of work but she’s excited by it.” He added, “The one thing I’m really super happy about is Bernadette [Hardaker, the current GM] has offered to come back for a day here and there. Her experience will be very helpful in some areas.”

Speaking of Ms. Hardaker, Mr. Nairn’s comment was, “It’s a terrific move for Bernadette. Marilyn [Logan, former GM} is still a big part of our lives as is Cathy Reid. Universally, the feed back from the theatre community and our near family actors, it’s been such a universally positive reaction to the news. I’m very thrilled for Sharyn and excited for the company.”

His reaction to our asking for a definition of the General Manger was, “Oh, boy, you don’t want to see that job description. Basically, it is seeing to the day-to-day financial and administrative health of the organization.” 

An exaggerated simplification of the job, to be sure. To elucidate somewhat, he continued, “Our art form is a collaborative one. Diane Bator is the box office manager and she is charged with hiring box office staff because she is the one who knows what is needed. It’s a matter of having great people and trusting them to know what to do and entrusting them to do that.”

He offered, “One of the really important aspects of GM is you need to be a people person. Her insight, compassion and heart will serve TOV brilliantly for quite some time to come.

“When you go through this kind of a process – it’s the third time for me– it was really satisfying to see the calibre of the people who applied for the job, which they did for a variety of reasons and to see that people of that calibre, with that level of life and experience, wanted to be part of this community – different reasons, goals, but they were all really driven by the desire to work here with this community.

“There were some excellent candidates who, once we delved into the level of commitment of time for the job, realized they might not be suited to it. The theatre needs to grow, develop and that requires a fresh take. I think too, when it’s a smart, clever, dynamic, energetic person -that is going to do nothing but inspire the company. 

“It is our responsibility to take inclusion further. That leadership will continue to be inspired. Sharyn is very much in tune with that.”

Mr. Nairn put it all this way, “Seeing a somewhat younger person in a position like that, in a position of authority is inspiring but this is not an age thing. Age is not the issue.”

He said, “It is an energy thing.”

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