Stage Door News

Toronto: Canadian Stage raises $2.8 million to steer its future

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Canadian Stage, Canada’s leading not-for-profit contemporary performing arts company, is thrilled to announce that it has embarked on a strategic planning initiative to chart a bold and game-changing path for the organization’s future.

To support this work in the coming years, Canadian Stage has launched a Transformation Campaign and, in a few short months, has successfully raised a remarkable $2.8 million from 25 individuals. These generous gifts will fund strategic artistic and organizational investments throughout the next three seasons, including innovative artistic program development, increased organizational and human resources, best-in-field consultancy with experts such as Michael M. Kaiser, and catalyst contributions to accumulated debt retirement by 2021. Cumulatively, these efforts will inject new energy and structure as the company steps into a bright future.

Since his appointment in August 2018, Artistic Director Brendan Healy, with the Board of Directors to date, have secured over $2.8 million in donations and are delighted and honoured by the generosity and encouragement shown by the campaign’s lead donors which include two $1 million gifts.

Recognition of two catalyst investments by Marilyn & Charles Baillie and Sandra Simpson:

In recognition of these two $1 million gifts, Canadian Stage is thrilled to make the following announcements:

Canadian Stage is honoured to announce the renaming of the Berkeley Street Downstairs Theatre to the Marilyn and Charles Baillie Theatre in recognition of the Baillie family’s major gift to Canadian Stage, as well as the family’s legacy as philanthropists and supporters of arts organizations, artists and essential organizations across Toronto and Canada.

Sandra’s gift has been made in recognition of the innovative artistic program at Canadian Stage. Her gift will help sustain the vision and commitment to contextualizing the work of Canadian contemporary artists in an international conversation. Sandra has been an integral contributor to the culture of the contemporary arts in Canada, as an art dealer, collector and philanthropist. Canadian Stage is deeply honoured that Sandra has chosen to support the present and future vitality of this city’s leading contemporary performing arts organization with her generous gift.

“It is an incredible honour to receive these gifts on behalf of Canadian Stage and all the artists we work with,” says Artistic Director, Brendan Healy. “These generous financial commitments will allow us to invest in our future and secure our position as a world leader in the creation and presentation of contemporary performance. Canadian Stage will be the country’s most significant platform for contemporary and multidisciplinary Canadian performing artists wishing to access the international scene. These gifts will ensure that we are building a solid plan to continue to support and cultivate the artist innovators of today and tomorrow.”

The coming together of these multi-generational philanthropic leaders is a ringing endorsement for thecritically-acclaimed and artistically vital work and legacy of Canadian Stage.

Charting a Course to a Bright Future:

The Transformation Campaign has seen 100% participation by the Board of Directors at Canadian Stage. “The last ten years have seen Canadian Stage build an artistic and curatorial model that has brought forward the most exciting contemporary programming in the city,” say Canadian Stage Board Co-Chairs, Alexandra Baillie and Tony Baylis. “We have had our share of financial, organizational and infrastructure challenges along the way, however the good news is that even with these challenges, some faced by many contemporary arts organizations in this country, Canadian Stage’s artistic work grows stronger and stronger. These gifts will allow us to, among other things, directly address the company’s operational challenges, so that we can build on our existing artistic strengths and realize an ambitious course for our future.”

These extraordinary gifts will enable impactful growth at Canadian Stage, in the short and long term. “Immediately, we will be embarking on meaningful organizational capacity building and making investments across all areas of the company,” says Canadian Stage Executive Director, Monica Esteves. “In the medium-term, the Transformation Campaign has provided catalyst support which will enable Canadian Stage to fully eliminate its long-held accumulated deficit no later than 2021 – a feat of tremendous significance to staff, Board and all stakeholders. And, most importantly, these generous gifts will help us envision a bold and enterprising plan for our future with courage, confidence, and some of the best minds in the field.”

To ensure the company’s long-term success, these funds will support the development of a strategic plan to redesign and reinvigorate Canadian Stage’s current operating and business models under the direction of world-renowned arts consultant and strategic thinker, Michael M. Kaiser.

Praised for his transformational work with numerous arts institutions including John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington, the American Ballet Theatre in New York, and the Royal Opera in London, Kaiser will work with Canadian Stage’s Board of Directors and the executive leadership team to create a tactical plan and financial strategy to ensure Canadian Stage’s position as a leading cultural arts institution for decades to come.

“I am very honored to be have been invited to work with the Board and management at Canadian Stage on building a dynamic vision and plan for the organization’s future” says Michael M. Kaiser. “I have great admiration for the company’s impressive legacy as a premier contemporary performing arts organization and I have enormous curiosity in the booming cultural ecology of Toronto. I look forward to working closely with Brendan and Monica as they set the course for the company’s next chapter.”

Since its inception in 1987, Canadian Stage has presented or produced over 270 productions from thrilling award-winning artists. With an illustrious history that includes over 320 Dora Mavor Moore Awards (the 2017/2018 season alone received 24 awards) and countless Governor General and Chalmers awards, Canadian Stage is a three-time recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Award for theArts, in recognition of building private sector and community support.

In Spring 2019, Brendan Healy and Monica Esteves will announce the 2019-2020 season.