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Tarragon Theatre names Lisa Li as incoming Executive Director

Li to return to Toronto this June after celebrated tenure at Winnipeg’s Prairie Theatre Exchange

April 4, 2024, TORONTO – Tarragon Theatre is thrilled to announce Lisa Li as its new Executive Director. Making the return to Toronto from Winnipeg, Li begins at Tarragon June 24, 2024, working through the transition with Artistic Director Mike Payette and outgoing Managing Director Andrea Vagianos.

”Lisa Li is one of the most active and impactful leaders in Canadian theatre today. Her commitment to championing the scope of artistic reach, and her dedication to the sector and community-at-large grounds her practice in inspiring ways. I’m thrilled to introduce her to our wonderful staff, and
advance Tarragon’s impact in theatre, and for the communities we serve during this new chapter in leadership,” notes Artistic Director Mike Payette.

Born in China and raised in Toronto, Li has a proven track record as a theatre executive. She produced over 65 works and concerts at Soulpepper Theatre Company (2016-2020), including Soulpepper on 42nd Street – a month-long residency in New York City. Li has also worked for the Shaw Festival and is on the faculty of Sheridan College. Her freelance and consulting credits include Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council, and various Toronto indie companies.

She was the Chair of the Board of ARC from 2019 – 2023 and since 2020, Lisa Li has been the Chair of Labour Relations on the Board of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. In returning to Toronto and joining the Tarragon Theatre team, Li departs her role as Managing Director of Prairie Theatre Exchange, where she has been since early 2021.

“I can’t imagine a better reason to return to Toronto than to join the incredible team at Tarragon Theatre. I look forward to co-leading with Mike Payette to drive Tarragon’s important mission,” incoming Executive Director Lisa Li reflects. “It’s never been more necessary to support bold and groundbreaking Canadian theatre. I’m eager to engage meaningfully with the various communities served by Tarragon and make an impact on the city I proudly call home.”

The search for an Executive Director for Tarragon Theatre was a nation-wide, six-month long process that sought a tenured arts leader. “Through this process we’ve found a leader who will continue fostering a collaborative, strategic, stable, open work environment for the Tarragon team,” notes
Adam Bryk, Board President.

Applications were received from across Canada and the hiring process went through several phases, with the search committee led by Board President Adam Bryk and included board members Jenny Gumbs and Caroline O’Brien, as well as Artistic Director Mike Payette. Gloria Mok, Producer at Nightswimming in Toronto and Evan Klassen, Executive Director of the Grand Theatre in London were community committee members, representing Canadian theatre and performance arts. The search was supported by organization development consultant Nadia Bello.

“Lisa Li brings to Tarragon a wealth of experience and knowledge in producing Canadian theatre, including the development and production of new Canadian plays, which is our focus. Combined with her clear passion for Canadian theatre and her caring for both the art and for the artists that we
support, this makes Lisa Li the ideal person to help lead us into the future. We look forward to Lisa Li joining us to partner with Mike in ensuring that Tarragon meets the challenges of the current arts landscape head on, and continues to grow and deliver as Canada’s leading space for Canadian artists and new work” says Bryk.

The Tarragon Managing Director Search Committee was assembled in late 2023, when Managing Director Andrea Vagianos announced her departure after six successful, dedicated, future-focused seasons with Tarragon. “We’d like to thank Andrea for her unwavering commitment to Tarragon, and to the
search committee for their insight and care in this process,” notes Payette.

“It’s been a privilege to work at Tarragon these past six+ years, and support the legacy of groundbreaking theatre professionals like Mallory Gilbert and Urjo Kareda, who were mentors to me when I was young in the business,” reflects Andrea Vagianos. She continues, “I look forward to working with Lisa Li to ensure a smooth leadership transition for the theatre and I am confident
that together Mike and Lisa, working with our committed staff and volunteer Board, will steward an exciting new chapter for the Tarragon community.”

“We look forward to welcoming Lisa Li home to Toronto, bringing her collaborative leadership to the team, and celebrating our legacy’s work of premiering contemporary theatre into the future together,” concludes Payette.