Nancy Webster to Step Down as Executive Director of Young People's Theatre

She has served for more than 15 years.

By: Dec. 08, 2023
Nancy Webster to Step Down as Executive Director of Young People's Theatre
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Young People’s Theatre has announced that Nancy Webster will step down as Executive Director at the end of the 2023.24 season, after more than 15 years of extraordinary leadership. During the past ten years, Ms. Webster spearheaded YPT’s $13.5 million Room for Imagination expansion project, vastly increasing the theatre’s footprint and renovating its spaces, creating Canada’s largest state-of-the-art theatre complex for young people.

Ms. Webster began her tenure at YPT as Managing Director from 2004 to 2009. After serving as Managing Director of English Theatre at the National Arts Centre, she returned to YPT as Executive Director in 2013, working alongside former Artistic Director Allen MacInnis to shepherd YPT into its sixth decade.

“When I returned to YPT as Executive Director, I wanted to achieve a specific goal: to successfully undertake a capital expansion of the theatre,” says Ms. Webster. “I wanted to ensure that YPT and its very special audiences have the facility they deserve. Now that this 10-year project and the opening of our new and improved spaces is complete, I think it’s the right time to usher in a new era.”

“Nancy has been a tenacious, resilient and innovative arts leader – a change-maker who has left her mark not only on the world of Theatre for Young Audiences, but across the theatre ecosystem,” says Jenine Krause, YPT Board of Directors Co-Chair. “During her time here, Nancy has overseen 10 seasons of surpluses, a continual expansion of our audiences, the creation of innovative educational programming, as well as excellent productions.” Co-Chair Richard Boyce adds: “With Nancy’s guidance, we have smoothly transitioned to a new Artistic Director, Herbie Barnes, and emerged from a pandemic with a brand new facility and long term vision. Fundamentally, we have a staff and Board with energy and ideas who are determined to achieve the objectives of our organization.”

“I’ve loved working with both Artistic Directors, Allen MacInnis and Herbie Barnes, our brilliant staff and Board, and the incredible donors who have helped to make YPT what it is today,” says Ms. Webster. “As much as I love this place and all the young people who pass through our doors every year (and I do love YPT more than any other theatre), now is also the time for me to explore other landscapes. I believe that a different leader with their own new, clear-eyed lens – their own fresh, big picture vision – will be well positioned to take YPT forward.”

“YPT’s staff and board will miss Nancy’s steadfast leadership of this company,” says Artistic Director Herbie Barnes. “Her passion to create new and beautiful spaces for our young audiences is truly inspirational and we are grateful for all the hard work she has put into making this collective dream of ours come true. She is beloved not only here at YPT, but in the broader theatre community – and has been a mentor to countless young (and in many cases now well-established) arts leaders.”

Ms. Webster is a highly valued and in-demand senior administrator and producer, who has given her time, energy and intellect to the Canadian theatre community for nearly 40 years. She has received a number of awards in recognition of her leadership, including the Vital People Award from the Toronto Community Foundation, the Victor Polley Award for Arts Administration, and the Harold Award for contributions to the Toronto theatre community. In 2016, she was honoured with both the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award from the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (PACT), and the Leonard McHardy and John Harvey Award from the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts.

In addition to serving for 13 years on the Executive of PACT, including as its volunteer President, Ms. Webster has been Producer of the Toronto Fringe Festival, Managing Director of Factory Theatre and grants officer for the Trillium Foundation. She has served as a consultant to the George Cedric Metcalf Foundation and as a member of the Cultural Strategic Advisory for the provincial Minister of Culture.

Ms. Webster will remain Executive Director of YPT until May 2024. The Search Committee will be led by David Scandiffio, Past Chair of the YPT Board of Directors and President & CEO, CIBC Asset Management, Inc. It will include current and past Board members, as well as Artistic Director Herbie Barnes and external theatre community members. The position description will be posted shortly.