Factory Theatre ousts Ken Gass in questionable style
The Board of Directors at Factory Theatre have some explaining to do after ousting one of the Toronto theatre community's most devoted visionaries, Ken Gass. While they must have their own side of the story, we haven't heard it yet.
The move came as a shock to the long-time Artistic Director, and has rung a sour note with the artistic community only days after the celebration of the theatre's 42nd year of programming.
In an email to the Toronto Star that surfaced today, Gass said: "Last night, the Board of Directors of Factory Theatre informed me that my position as artistic director was terminated, effective immediately. No 'cause' has been given for the action, but simply that they have decided it is time for the Theatre to move forward in a different direction."
The blindside seems questionably executed, with neither clear explanations for the dismissal nor any evident advanced warning to the AD. He continues, "I am not happy about this, as this is not the way I would have planned my exit after more than 15 years working at the Factory and at this point in my artistic career, but the Board has made its decision and I am looking forward to the next chapter of my creative life."
The most recent press release on the Factory Theatre further indicates a mismanagement of Gass' dismissal. The release, entitled "Factory Theatre Announces National Search for New Artistic Director" reads, "The Board of Directors of Factory Theatre have announced that a national search for a new Artistic Director will commence shortly, as Ken Gass will no longer be continuing in that role with the organization, nor as Artistic Director Emeritus as was offered as part of re-visioning for Factory Theatre's future."
At the very least, thanking Gass for his years of devoted service, rather than tacking it onto the announcement of a new search, demands a separate statement. This is a theatre he helped found, let's not forget.
Gass founded Factory Theatre in 1970, with the goal of creating a theatre that focused on presenting a diverse array of distinctly Canadian work. He served as its Artistic Director for nine years during that initial phase before returning in 1996 to right the sinking (and nearly bankrupt) ship.
Something is certainly awry. While details at this stage are sparse — it hasn't turned into a he said, they said as of yet — it's a disappointing end to Gass' relationship with his theatre.