AtG’s New Executive Director


Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) hires Robin Whiffen as the company’s first Executive Director.

TORONTO — An arts administrator and performer from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Robin Whiffen spent the past three seasons with Opera on the Avalon, most recently in the role of General Manager. Inspired by a lifelong love of music, Ms. Whiffen is passionate about creating meaningful collaborative partnerships within the arts community, allowing audiences to see their full potential reflected through the power of opera.

Ms. Whiffen is a Master of Business Administration candidate at Memorial University of Newfoundland and holds a Bachelor of Music in voice performance from The University of Toronto. In 2017, she represented at the OPERA America Leadership Intensive in New York City and has been invited to speak across Canada in her capacity as an arts administrator and advocate of the operatic art form.

Ms. Whiffen joins Against the Grain as Executive Director in partnership with Founder & Artistic Director Joel Ivany, AtG staff and the Board of Directors: contributing to the continued growth and development of Against the Grain’s artistic portfolio.

According to Against the Grain Theatre Board Chair Heather Legg, “We are thrilled to have Robin join AtG as its first Executive Director. She was the clear choice after an intense national search process that included many qualified candidates. Robin impressed the search committee with her strong leadership, thoughtfulness and clear ideas for realizing AtG’s strategic vision of making art and opera a thriving part of our community. We are excited to welcome her to AtG’s excellent team.”

“I am excited to join Against the Grain as Executive Director,” Robin shared.  “I look forward to working in collaboration with Joel, the AtG Collective and the Board of Directors to continue to push the boundaries of the operatic art form, allowing audiences to see themselves reflected on stage through the power of the human voice.”

After three years as General Manager, Jonathan MacArthur transitions into a new role in the organizational collective as the Digital Marketing Manager: committing to the growing online presence of Against the Grain Theatre. In other company related moves, Miriam Khalil, previously serving as an Artistic Advisor will now assume the role of Associate Artistic Director.  She will continue to be heavily involved in casting and her quiet influence over the artistic direction of the company will now take on a more public position. Lastly, Shirley Neuman joins the collective as Government Relations. Having previously served on the Board of Directors for Against the Grain Theatre, Shirley’s years of expert grant writing has been pivotal to Against the Grain Theatre’s growth and programmatic success.

In December of 2010, Toronto’s opera scene received a jolt of energy with the formation of Against the Grain Theatre (AtG). With a goal to reinvigorate the operatic art form by presenting an eclectic array of musical works in unconventional spaces and innovative ways, AtG staged its first performance to a sold-out audience of 50 people, and with that the company was off and running. Since that first season, AtG has packed every single one of its productions with standing room-only crowds, winning a consistent level of critical and public acclaim, and picking up nine Dora Mavor Moore Awards along the way. The arts community has embraced the AtG, as has a much wider, more diverse audience of people who may have never considered attending an opera. The company has brought free monthly Opera Pubs to its diverse audience, and was the inaugural Company-in-Residence at the Canadian Opera Company. Founded by an adventurous collective of friends and artists, the company’s mission is to preserve the company’s unique ability to be serious in intent and execution, yet fun and irreverent in spirit. Current members include: Joel Ivany, Robin Whiffen, Jonathan MacArthur, Amanda Hadi, Michael Zarathus-Cook, Jason Hand, Miriam Khalil, David Eliakis, Michael Morreale, Michaela Dickey, Madison Angus, and Brenna Hardy-Kavanagh.

AtG’s mission is to create and introduce communities to outside the box opera experiences. 

For more information, please visit AtG online at




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