Mallory Gilbert, stage manager, general manager, administrator, consultant, cultural champion (b at Detroit, Mich 6 Aug 1937). Mallory Gilbert was educated at Denison University in Ohio, receiving a BA in theatre arts in 1959. After moving to Toronto in 1967 she volunteered for 5 years at the University of Toronto Alumnae Dramatic Club (now called Alumnae Theatre) as a stage manager and producer. During this period, she worked with both Bill Glassco and Urjo Kareda, both of whom would go on to run Toronto's Tarragon Theatre (Glassco from 1971 to 1982, Kareda from 1982 to 2002).
At the fledgling Tarragon under artistic director Glassco, Gilbert was theatre manager, with duties ranging from the custodial to the administrative. Within 6 years she had become general manager, a reflection of the company's amazing growth in that short period of time. She oversaw a rapidly expanding staff and payroll, and learned quickly how to marshal, encourage and foster the growing audiences at the Tarragon. By the time Kareda arrived as the company's artistic director in 1982, Gilbert was at the heart of a company that had become the most important producer of Canadian plays in the country.
Her working relationship with Kareda was collaborative, and it wasn't unusual for Gilbert to participate in some artistic decisions. She was known for attending most, if not all, of a new play's previews and offering encouragement and sound judgement to the anxious playwright and acting company.
While still at Tarragon, Gilbert participated in the founding of PACT, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres. She served 20 years on its board, 4 of those as the organization's president. Through PACT, Gilbert was able to lend her expertise to theatres across the country, many of which were experiencing the kind of growth already seen at Tarragon.
Gilbert left Tarragon after 34 years, and in 2006 began working as a freelance arts consultant. The same year, PACT and Tarragon initiated the Mallory Gilbert Leadership Award. The $5000 award recognizes outstanding leadership in the Canadian theatre community, and includes a $1000 portion to be given to a worthy protégé, chosen by the award winner. The prize's structure reflects Gilbert's own belief in the importance of mentoring.
In 2004, she co-founded the Creative Trust for arts and culture, a body that provides endowments and working capital to small and medium-sized arts companies. The goal of the trust is to provide a degree of financial stability to companies that suffer most during times of private and government funding volatility. Years at Tarragon had proved to Gilbert that there is a direct relationship between the financial health of an organization and the quality of the work it produces.
Gilbert is the recipient of the Brenda Donahue Award, the M. Joan Chalmers Award for Arts Administration, the Gascon-Thomas Award from the National Theatre School, the Canadian Conference for the Arts' Keith Kelly Award for Cultural Leadership, and the Toronto Theatre Alliance's Silver Ticket Award.
In 2004 Mallory Gilbert became a Canadian citizen, and in 2007 she became a member of the Order of Canada.