Artistic Director Alex Mustakas Awarded Meritorious Service Medal
Alex Mustakas, founding and current Artistic Director of award-winning Drayton Entertainment, has been honoured by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, with the prestigious Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division).
Created by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Meritorious Service Decorations recognize Canadians for exceptional deeds that bring honour to our country. The Meritorious Service Decorations are an important part of the Canadian Honours System and highlight remarkable achievements that are accomplished over a limited period of time.
Mustakas is being celebrated for his lifelong commitment to making the performing arts affordable and accessible throughout the province of Ontario. His peerless vision has created one of the largest and respected charitable arts organizations in Canada, featuring up to 20 productions annually across 7 venues to an audience of 250,000, and generating $40 million in benefits throughout wider society each year.
“I am beyond humbled to be singled out with this honour, and share this recognition with everyone involved in the success of Drayton Entertainment,” says Mustakas. “It takes an entire creative community to produce such an ambitious lineup of shows each season, including our artists, musicians, technical crew, administrative staff, volunteer Board of Directors, sponsors, donors, and front line volunteers. Each person involved with our organization plays an integral role and shares in this accomplishment.”
Mustakas emigrated from Cyprus at the age of six. As a natural performer, he was drawn to the stage. But Alex first honoured his father’s wishes to by earning a business degree in Economics from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. He then found gainful employment in the corporate sector, but seemed unable to shake his artistic desires. In a bold move, he handed his degree to his father and said, “This was for you. Now I want to do something for me. I’d like to become a professional actor.”
Mustakas set off for uncharted territory, but after a few years on the stage, he pursued a Master’s Degree in Arts Administration at City University in London. His dream of a small theatre of his own began to take shape during these years, providing the impetus to become an agent of change. He was acutely aware of the physical, social, economic and cultural barriers that limited access to the arts, particularly in rural areas. He also recognized the stigma that surrounded the arts in terms of their perceived value and contribution to society.
Alex returned to Canada, merging his business and arts knowledge to create a theatre model that addressed these two issues and also set a new path for long-term sustainability within the charitable sector. His father was right! And the rest is Canadian theatre history.
Drayton Entertainment’s unique theatre model amortizes pre-production and administrative costs across numerous venues. Mustakas has defied the fragility inherent in the performing arts industry and enabled live theatre to flourish across the southern Ontario communities of Cambridge, Drayton, Grand Bend, Penetanguishene, Waterloo and St. Jacobs. In so doing, he has enabled creativity and commerce to seamlessly converge.
“From vision to execution, Alex’s innovative approach to overcoming challenges and celebrating the arts is repeatedly validated from the first risky but successful theatre start-up, to the scaled up network of seven stages,” says Neil Aitchison, President of Drayton Entertainment’s Board of Directors. “At the heart of his decades-long problem-solving ability, audience engagement success, and bottom-line focus on affordability within the arts, is Alex’s remarkably pure insight to maintain an indigenous identity for each theatre, rooted in strong community ownership, with additional business and artistic synergies. We are incredibly proud of his accomplishments.”
Over the course of his career Mustakas has been recognized with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Media & Entertainment), Theatre Ontario’s Maggie Bassett Award, and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Wilfrid Laurier University, amongst others.
Meritorious Service Decorations are given to recognize outstanding contributions in any field, from advocacy initiatives and health care services to research and humanitarian efforts. Past recipients include Colonel Chris Hadfield (Ret’d), Clara Hughes, Colette Roy Laroche, Sarah Burke, and Thérèse Tanguay Dion.
Mustakas will receive the award at a ceremony presided by the Governor General later this year.