New Ordway President Jamie Grant Embraces His Role

Ordway president Jamie Grant is embracing his new role.
Jamie Grant in the Ordway Music Theater at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

Jamie Grant, the new president and CEO of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, has a long-term vision for the direction of the Ordway, but a more personal and immediate vision for himself: he’s “looking forward to buying a winter coat” after several years spent living in Austin, Texas, as CEO of the Long Center.

Grant, who is the tenth president in the Ordway’s 32-year history, took on the role in March, so he’s on the cusp of his first official Minnesota winter. “My first day, March 14, I welcomed members of the state Legislature here,” he says. “And the next day, we announced our new season.”

It’s a season including An American in Paris, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and West Side Story, which Grant is eagerly awaiting. “I don’t think there’s a better musical out there,” he says.

He is also a fan of White Christmas, on stage at the Ordway December 8-31. This version is being produced by the Ordway and directed by James Rocco, vice president of programming and producing artistic director for the Ordway. “James Rocco’s production has been performed in theaters across the country and it really has become the quintessential version,” says Grant.

The familiarity of the song, coupled with a theme that still resonates today, is what Grant believes audiences find appealing. “The song ‘White Christmas’ is about longing. And it’s about how the holidays feel, and how people make the best of them, no matter who they are with,” says Grant.

The notion of home has shifted somewhat for Grant, a native of Canada, and his wife Christine Bird, both in terms of family and geography; the parents of five children, the couple are now empty-nesters. “I think we calculated that area code 651 is No. 9 for me,” says Grant. At the Long Center, Grant was in charge of a 2,400-seat main stage, a 229-seat black box performing space and an outdoor venue. Over the years, he also worked at the Imperial Theatre in St. John, New Brunswick, the Skylight Theatre in Toronto, and Centre in the Square in Kitchener, Ontario. And his first theater—a true proving ground—was his own, called Theatre Malton in Mississauga, just west of Toronto, which he bought with a little money his parents saved for him after he graduated from college in the 1980s with a major in theater.

“It was the most incredible learning experience of my life,” he says, adding that he closed the theater after four years, but soon found several job offers began coming his way.

Grant is thrilled to be at the Ordway. “I know we don’t brag here in Minnesota, but the Ordway is a highly regarded performing arts center across the country. I don’t think people here realize how highly regarded it is,” he says.

When asked about his specific vision for the Ordway and the theater’s goals, he mentions a few points. “We have to get better at telling our story,” says Grant. “And part of my job is to listen. If we are perfect at our job, the Ordway will matter to everyone for some reason or another.”

Rocco is excited about the Ordway’s future with Grant at the helm. “Jamie brings so much valuable experience and knowledge with him and fully supports the Ordway’s mission of bringing top-quality new work to Saint Paul,” says Rocco. “He’s dynamic, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store.”



For information about White Christmas and other upcoming performances at the Ordway, visit