YPDaily: Gideon Arthurs

As Executive Director of Toronto Fringe – which produces the Toronto Fringe Festival and the Next Stage Theatre Festival – 32-year-old Gideon Arthurs is taxed with fostering a sustainable and healthy future for the organization; no small feat, but he’s handling the responsibility with care and determination. Find out more about this outstanding young professional in today’s YPDaily.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am responsible for the long-term health, fiscal strength, and mandate visioning of the Toronto Fringe, a year-round organization that, among other things, produces the Fringe Festival and runs the Fringe Creation Lab.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Fringe is in my DNA. When I was in high school, I was the producer of our one act play festival, and I haven’t looked back since then. I believe in the power of the arts – as an important part of our culture, as an economic engine, as a vital force in a liberal society – and feel compelled to try to connect as many people to the arts and artists.

Do you plan on starting your own company in the same industry one day?
Actually, I already have my own company, Groundwater Productions. We produce new work and have had a great few years.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of what I do is working with so many passionate people: The Fringe machine is huge, with 110 staff, 500 volunteers, and 1200 artists working in an absurd synchronized routine to make the festival happen, fuelled only by love of theatre and the Fringe. The most challenging part of what I do are the endless, looped spreadsheets.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Very tired, wondering about what’s next…

What does success look like to you?
Success for me is working with my wife to make sure we’re happy, that our family is healthy, and that we help each other to keep toiling in ways that satisfy us.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
It feels too recent to be called the most memorable, but I’m the most excited I’ve ever been about my work as we launch the new Fringe Creation Lab. The Lab is 3,000 sq. ft. of creation space for independent artists, operating all year, and available at highly-subsidised rates. I’m so looking forward to working on making it a hub for our community. Surviving my first Fringe sits as a close second.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Work/life balance is about making sure you’re passionate and excited about your work, not about separating the two. I would be a lesser husband and father if I didn’t care about what I did.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Working for a charity, it can be hard to support charities, but I donate to several theatre companies, have served on many boards of directors (currently, I’m the Chair of the Media Advisory Committee for the Toronto Alliance For The Performing Arts), and I always donate to Doctors Without Borders. Donations are an obligation for the privileged.

What is Notable to you?
I think Canada’s current identity crisis is notable – there’s some very heavy figuring out of who we are happening, and a lot of vitriol and tension in the air because of that. I wonder about what sort of Canada my daughter will grow up in…