The 2017 Rozsa Award Shortlist



Celebrating Excellence in Arts Management

The Rozsa Foundation is pleased to announce our shortlist for the 14th Annual Rozsa Award. Congratulations to David Chantler, Founder and Producing Director of Trickster Theatre, Carol Holmes, Executive Director of the Writers' Guild of Alberta, and JP Thibodeau, Managing Artistic Director of StoryBook Theatre.

Selected by the Rozsa Award Jury out of several exemplary nominations from across the province, these candidates are distinct in their transformational leadership, moving their organizations forward through innovation and outstanding executive management.

David Chantler – Founder, Producing Director, Trickster Theatre (Calgary)


Founded in 1980 by David Chantler, Trickster Theatre is a company of physical theatre focused on the use of theatre and arts in educational programs.


Originally a theatre that focused on shows and touring them, Trickster Theatre changed its business model to producing school and community residency programs in 1989. Over the past 28 years, David Chantler has produced more than 700 week-long residencies which has included over 200,000 Albertans as artist participants. These residency programs have become the largest and most popular program of its kind in the province because of its effective methods for engaging students and communities in the collective experience of art-making. Additionally, providing “artistic” services including trained actors; as well as grade and curriculum web-based teaching and learning tools has allowed Trickster to grow as a company, carve out a unique artistic space, attract top tier artists, and be financially viable.



Created in 2002 to honour the philanthropic efforts of Drs Ted and Lola Rozsa, the Rozsa Award for Excellence in Arts Management is unique in Canada, celebrating outstanding arts administrators and providing additional professional development benefits to the recipient and his or her organization.


Thanks to our generous partners including Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, CKUA Radio Network, Deloitte, Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, Ross W Marsh ConsultingTranscend Management Advisors Inc and Vital Business Systems, as well as other valued partners over the past 14 years, the Foundation has distributed over one million dollars in benefits to our award recipients and their organizations across Alberta.

Read more about The Rozsa Award, the History of the Award, our Award Jury, our Award Glass Artists, and our Award Partners.

In 2012, David expanded the school residency program by presenting a new program called Kids Go Global, which allows schools to learn about global issues through theatre and take action by using a free web platform to raise funds for issues locally and globally. Not only did the program increase the number of residency programs that Trickster delivers, but the program has also enabled the creation of formal partnerships with NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) world-wide and has provided a central web location for schools to support NGO projects and find educational resources.


The Kids Go Global program was also the focus of a research partnership with the Calgary Board of Education and the University of Calgary’s Werklund  School of Education into “Socially Empowered Learning”. The research has resulted in changes to teacher training programs that will be implemented in 2018 and to the Alberta curriculum in ways that acknowledge the relevance and measurable, positive outcomes for engaging the arts in the learning process for students.


At the helm for Trickster’s 37 years in operation, David’s astute and creative approach has constantly kept Trickster programming current and relevant. He and his team provide programs that respond to specific environmental and social issues, conditions and circumstances. One such example is Trickster’s collaboration with the Sunnyside School and local community organizations, where there was a strong need to seek positivity from the aftermath of the Flood of 2013. Another example is Trickster Theatre’s annual 2-day Finding the Balance Between 2 Worlds Conference that brings First Nations Metis and Inuit (FNMI) and non-FNMI schools across Alberta together to examine Treaty Issues, Diversity, and Reconciliation through the creation of theatre.


On a wider scale, examples of Trickster’s commitment to keeping artistic programming and community engagement relevant include the Canada 150 – Our Many Faces, a $1.5 million dollar story-telling initiative between 2016-2018 that involves over 70 Alberta communities and 30,000 student actors. David's 37-year commitment to the pursuit and integration of creative and relevant art is a key factor to effective teaching, learning and living in community.

Carol Holmes – Executive Director, The Writers’ Guild of Alberta (Edmonton)


Because writers do much of their work in isolation, they need plenty of support to keep going and to encourage and stimulate innovative creative choices. Accordingly, Carol Holmes, the Executive Director of the Writers’ Guild of Alberta (WGA), works to create a deep sense of community in which WGA Board and staff members, as well as Alberta writers of all levels and genres, are encouraged, supported and celebrated. 


As leader of the largest provincial writing organization in Canada, Carol has facilitated an explosion of innovative programming both online and in Alberta centres. These initiatives include video poem classes for kids, sleepover writing camps for teens, As an Author events for young adults, wine and literary pairing nights, Yoga and Writing workshops, and many other literary events presented throughout the year. In this way, Carol consistently reaches and nurtures Alberta’s homegrown talent, and ensures that the WGA models the bold, relevant, inclusive and innovative voice of Alberta writers.

The AWG has also developed strong partnerships with arts and culture organizations, literary festivals, libraries, post-secondary institutions and advocacy groups. Carol considers these relationships essential for the WGA so that it can provide its membership with a diverse array of programs and opportunities to earn and grow as writers. In addition, her work in establishing partnerships between the WGA and writers, publishers, bookstore owners and librarians has led to the creation of the hugely successful Alberta Reads project, resulting in over 300 Alberta books on travelling display to rural libraries in all corners of the province.


Under Carol’s leadership, the Writers' Guild of Alberta boasts an efficient organization. During the economic downturn, Carol has successfully minimized costs, secured an increase in grant funding, and established an endowment fund for the WGA to foster future sustainability. The WGA has also been recognized for its comprehensive and tailored set of governance practices.


Carol nurtures an efficiently functioning non-profit organization by encouraging regular training for WGA board and staff, working towards excellence in governance and administration practices respectively, and encourages an “open-door” policy to expose trainees to all aspects of the organization’s operations. As importantly, Carol views stakeholder engagement as an essential and mutually beneficial strategic function for the successful operation of the WGA. For example, in 2016 she facilitated the creation of a task force and distributed a survey to all members of the guild, resulting in an informed plan for the redesign of the WGA’s flagship magazine.


Carol has transformed the WGA into a provincial organization that serves and connects its members with each other through creative and productive online programs and in-person events. It offers its 1000 diverse members across the province an effective platform to develop their skills, and to demonstrate and draw attention to the vibrancy and relevancy of the literary arts for all Albertans and other Canadians to enjoy and nurture.

JP Thibodeau – Managing Artistic Director, StoryBook Theatre (Calgary)


Since becoming Managing Artistic Director for StoryBook Theatre (SBT) in 2013, JP Thibodeau has transitioned the struggling community theatre company to its present-day status as a thriving semi-professional theatre company. He has strategically built an interlocking foundation of professional theatre artists and volunteers who now create some of the highest quality theatrical programming in Alberta.


In recognizing the shortage and quality of Canadian works for Theatres for young adults, JP initiated a National Playwriting competition in 2015 and several scripts were selected for workshopping and production by SBT. In addition, JP values the opportunities to collaborate with other arts organizations, which have resulted in successful and profitable ventures such as productions like the Paper Bag Princess and Urban Jungle - both in partnership with Forte Musical Theatre. JP is also expanding SBT’s TYA programming with the incorporation of Vertigo Theatre’s Y Stage as an opportunity to introduce new theatre experiences to SBT patrons. Such strategies demonstrate JP’s foresight and vision for the scope, growth and development of SBT as a theatre company of regional and national importance.

JP’s leadership has directly resulted in substantial increases in ticket sales for STB. In the 2016-17 season, 92% of available seats were sold. Subscriptions have increased by 25%, and currently, school matinee ticket sales account for over 40% of sales. The company’s patronage has grown from 20,000 to 40,000, thus bringing a brighter financial future for STB, and bolsters its ability to transition to and operate as a semi-professional theatre company, setting its sights on developing long-term plans for STB’s continued expansion as a Canadian leader in its field. Commendably, since SBT’s mandate ensures that children and families have access to the arts regardless of their means, JP has introduced programs to support the attendance of many to attend SBT performances. Furthermore, his creation of the Ellie Tims Project offers free voice, dance and piano training to nominated students.


JP fully embraces the value of SBT’s committed volunteer and student intern base, nurturing their continued involvement through a mentoring process with experienced professionals. These mentorships result in successful transitions into lead roles and/or professional work with the company.


As an active participant on and off stage, JP has transitioned SBT into a semi-professional theatre company that values its artists and patrons equally. He is committed to creating new works and increasing the quality of SBT performances and to developing meaningful opportunities that are available for artists, students, mentors, volunteers, and patrons of all ages.

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