Stage Door News

Niagara-on-the-Lake: Shaw Festival posts a surplus for the cancelled 2020 season

Friday, March 19, 2021

At its first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting, the Shaw Festival announced the financial results for the 2020 season. Sharing the news with an online audience of patrons, donors and company members, Kevin Patterson, Treasurer of the Board of Directors, reported The Shaw attained gross revenues of just over $24.1 million, with an operating surplus of $185,000 in 2020. This fiscal achievement was reached through a combination of significant donor investment, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and pandemic-related insurance coverage payouts.

Reflecting on a historically incomparable season, Artistic Director Tim Carroll said, "Not only did we manage to keep everyone safe throughout the year, we actually pulled off a fabulous series of shows. Credit for this goes to the singers, musicians and crew, and to Paul Sportelli and Ryan deSouza for their unfailing musical brilliance. Most of all, the concert series gave me yet another reason to be thankful for our Associate Artistic Director, Kimberley Rampersad. You know her work from 2019’s unforgettable Man and Superman. In March 2020, she became my Associate Artistic Director, and I can honestly say that I am not sure I would have made it through the year without her loyalty and commitment to making great art, both of which are unshakeable. We are lucky to have her on our team.”

In addition to realizing a financial gain, the Shaw Festival also made strides in cultivating new funding partnerships, while supporting surrounding businesses, during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am so proud of our team here and of the successful inaugural partnership with the Federal Development Agency of Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). Through this collaboration, we delivered a live concert series on the Shaw Festival grounds and at local Niagara area wineries and hotels over a 16-week period in the fall. As the weather cooled, our concert series continued through to December in our carefully distanced Jackie Maxwell Studio Theatre,” remarked Tim Jennings, Executive Director. “In total, The Shaw engaged with more than 135,000 people locally, nationally and beyond through 65 live, in-person concerts and over 870 online events and performances. These events reinforced the already strong connection we have with our audiences. Thank you to everyone who participated and supported the arts through this last year.”

The racial reckoning following the death of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of the police galvanized the Shaw Festival’s management team to deeply examine issues affecting Black, Indigenous, people of colour and marginalized members of the company. In response to revealing discussions with past and present company members about the problematic inclusion and diversity dynamics at the Festival, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce was created. Led by incoming Board Chair Ian M. H. Joseph, aided by an independent facilitator and comprised of artists, board mem­bers and staff, the group was entrusted to make recommendations on sustainable policy improvements, along with diversity and inclusion initiatives. The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce’s recommendations will be announced shortly.

“Everyone who works at The Shaw should be acknowledged for their resilience and care this year. We all learnt a great deal about what it means to look out for each other, not only through the pandemic, but also through a year of outrages against social justice, to which we must all respond by taking stock of our treatment of those we have marginalized,” stated Tim Carroll, Artistic Director. “There is no question that The Shaw has not been the inclusive and welcoming company we could be, and this year has been a good chance to face up to that and commit to doing better.”

As the pandemic raged on, theatres remained closed resulting in wide spread layoffs at performing arts companies around the world. The Festival remained committed to assisting its company members throughout the crisis. This act of care and concern was paid forward to the local community through acts of volunteerism and engagement programs started by members of The Shaw and the Shaw Guild.

“I am very proud of the way The Shaw responded to the COVID pandemic and the societal and emotional upheaval that accompanied it. The Shaw focused on its core strength: our people – artists, employees, patrons and supporters. Rather than shut down in the face of the pandemic, we focused on what we could do to help people and keep our patrons connected,” commented Peter E.S. Jewett, Chair of the Board of Directors. “Combining the federal government’s wage subsidy with our insurance allowed us to keep our artists working through the summer of 2020 as Education and Community Outreach Specialists (ECOS). This employment program sustained almost all of our workforce through last season and allowed us to stay connected with patrons, students, community partners and local residents. I am particularly proud that we were able to support our artists and employees in this way. The leadership of the Tims – Tim Carroll and Tim Jennings – and the support of our Boards through all of this has been remarkable. On behalf of the whole Shaw community, I am grateful for their thoughtful, caring, effective and tireless efforts to guide us through a uniquely challenging year.”

On stage May 1st through December 23, the Shaw Festival’s 2021 season playbill features The Devil’s Disciple, Sherlock Holmes and the Raven’s Curse, Charley’s Aunt, Flush, Desire Under the Elms, Trouble in Mind, A Short History of Niagara, A Christmas Carol, Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn and an upcoming, yet to be announced, series of outdoor concerts and activities. Tickets are available through the Box Office at 1-800-511-SHAW and online at