Burlington imports a new executive director for the Performing Arts Centre from Richmond BC; Susan Haines starts September 1st

theartsBy Pepper Parr

August 10, 2015


The Performing Arts Centre has a new executive director.

Suzanne Haines will assume her new role effective September 1st replacing Brian McCurdy who has held the position since August 2013.

Susan HainesThe Executive Director is charged with developing an effective economic operating model for the performing arts centre, balancing between community-based arts groups, the Centre’s presenting series of programs and other community and corporate usage.

Haines will be the third person to hold down the job since the Performing Arts Centre opened in the fall of 2011.

“We received great interest in this position from across the country and beyond, and feel we have chosen an individual whose experience and qualifications are best suited to lead us into our 5th Season and beyond,” said Theatre Board chair Ilene Elkaim.

Haines was previously employed as General Manager of the Gateway Theatre, a $2.4 million operation in Richmond, B.C. As the only professional performing arts organization in that community, which has a large east Asian population, Gateway produced and presented theatre, acts as a cultural venue for the community through rentals and year-round youth educational and outreach programming.

As CEO of the organization, Suzanne was the community builder, and the face of the organization to the community. She is credited as being successful in converting the Gateway Theatre into a highly engaged community centre.

You can get your name on one of those seats and Brenda Heatherington will thank you and flash one of her smiles your way as well.

Brenda Heatherington had a great pedigree on the content side – many felt she didn’t get the support she needed on the finance and administration side.


McCurdy ran a tight ship took moderate risks that paid off. He is going to be missed – not only because he was a decent guy but because he had the chops to do the job right.

“This is an important leadership role and while we are disappointed to see Brian leave us, we are grateful for his contribution and dedication. We wish him all the best and hope he will return to visit soon, as a patron and to witness first-hand the impact he has had here in Burlington and on this wonderful facility”, said Theatre Board chair Ilene Elkaim.

“Brian provided great leadership and direction and guided us forward with a strategic focus for the next three years”.

BPAC decorated

The opening night for the Performing Arts Centre was a glamorous affair – the place has yet to live up to its original billing.

Indeed, McCurdy steadied the ship and brought some financial discipline to an operation that was bleeding more red ink than city council could stomach.

Haines ran the Gateway for 12 years. She announced in April that she would be leaving the theatre. Brian McCurdy announced his plans to retire the second half of May.

The Gateway switchboard said they did not think they should be saying anything about Ms Haines other than that she left in April.

The Gateway has two theatres: a 540 seat Main Stage and a 100 seat Studio B. They also offered year-round acting, musical theatre, and technical training classes for youth aged 6 – 18; adults classes were also available.

The current Performing Arts Board is working from a Strategic Plan that McCurdy’s thumb prints are all over – that’s the good news. If the board can stay on that course and the marketing team continues to do the job they’ve done in the past – we could be OK – I think

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