The 2018/2019 season will be the last for Andy McKim at Theatre Passe Muraille. On June 1 next year, he will officially step down after 12 years as artistic director of the company, Toronto’s oldest alternative-venue theatre company.
Though McKim says he has been thinking about the end of his term since he started the job in 2007, the decision to leave was made less than two weeks ago, at which point it was shared with TPM staff and board of directors. The historic theatre becomes the latest in the Toronto theatre industry to undergo a change in leadership, following Canadian Stage’s replacement of Matthew Jocelyn with Brendan Healy this year and coinciding with Soulpepper Theatre’s current search for a new artistic director.
“The dynamic tension for me is renewal. When is the best time for renewal for the institution and when is the best time for renewal for me?” McKim told The Star from his office, which he shares with general manager Regine Cadet, located kitty-corner from the theatre at 16 Ryerson Ave., built in 1902 as the Nasmith Bakery and Stables and purchased by the company in 1975 with the proceeds of the highly successful, highly controversial collective creation I Love You, Baby Blue. Under the artistic directorship of Paul Thompson, the theatre was known for its collaborative esthetic and progressive politics in the formative 1970s era of Canadian theatre.
But when McKim took over in 2007 — the theatre’s 40th anniversary — Theatre Passe Muraille was in financial peril. facing a $500,000 deficit on an annual operating budget of roughly $1.2 million. Then the City of Toronto moved in, purchasing the building and leasing it back to the company for $2 a year, plus a $20,000 annual contribution to maintenance and upkeep.