Penny Ritco’s life in the theatre began as a high school student in a fine arts program at Central Collegiate in Regina. Her art teacher, Mac Hone, suggested she apply to the National Theatre School (NTS) of Canada in Montreal – the best advice she ever took. Penny graduated from NTS’s Production Section, then worked for over 15 years as a stage manager, production manager, tour coordinator and producer of theatre, dance and music productions, as well as festivals and industrials. The work ranged from new Canadian plays to the Moscow Circus taking Penny to a variety of theatres, concert halls and arenas across Canada and the US. She later returned to NTS as the Director of its English Production Section.
In the mid-eighties, Penny crossed over to film, joining the National Film Board in Montreal. And with her mentor, Wolf Koenig (of the renowned NFB Unit B team), she produced several award-winning documentary and drama programs. In 1995, she moved to Edmonton to join Great North Productions, which later became an Alliance Atlantis Company. As the Vice President of Production, she was responsible for dozens of hours of documentary television programs each year with co-production partners world-wide for broadcaster in the U.S., U.K., Europe, and Australia. Many of these programs garnered awards and recognition both at home and abroad.
Penny joined the Citadel in 2003, reconnecting with Bob Baker, with whom she had worked at the Stratford Festival many years earlier. As the Citadel’s joint CEOs, they share an artistic, organizational, and business vision and have a highly successful working relationship. Penny’s long and varied experience in the arts makes her a strong leader, able to appreciate and direct the many activities of a major arts organization and a large facility. She received the Maclab Enterprises Award for Excellence in Arts Administration at the Mayor’s Evening for the Arts in 2006. Penny received the Rozsa Award for Innovation in 2010, and was recently appointed a TRG Arts VIP and nominated for a Women of Vision Award.
Penny is a passionate participant in and supporter of the arts in all their forms and is active in arts advocacy efforts at municipal, provincial, and federal levels. She believes that the arts are integral to daily life and to a healthy society and strives to increase public and political awareness about the importance of the arts. She is a member the Theatre Advisory Committee of the Canada Council, is on the Board of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, is a member of the steering committee for the Canadian Arts summit, and sits on numerous juries and panels.
The arts are a part of Penny’s family life, as well. She is married to actor/director Brian Dooley, and they have two highly artistically engaged daughters, Bevin and Quinn.