Stage Door News

Niagara-on-the-Lake: The federal government invests $6 million in the Shaw Festival

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

FedDev Ontario invests over $6 million to support tourism recovery in the Niagara Region

The Shaw Festival—one of the world’s leading repertory theatre companies with 13 or more productions each year—is the second largest repertory theatre company in North America and one of the largest employers in the Niagara Region. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shaw Festival’s 2020 season was cancelled and the 2021 season was significantly reduced due to closures and capacity restrictions. 

The Government of Canada is committed to revitalizing major events and festivals, like the Shaw Festival, positioning them for a strong future.Today, Chris Bittle, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines, on behalf of the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), announced a non-repayable investment of over $6 million to support the Shaw Festival’s recovery from the impacts of the past two years.

This investment, through the Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative (MFESI), will help the Shaw Festival return to its pre-pandemic scale with 13 shows, a new concert series and Fairground and Shawground events.

This investment will create a positive ripple effect across the Niagara Region’s tourism and hospitality sectors, strengthen southern Ontario’s position as a tourism destination of choice and position the Shaw Festival for strong growth.


“Major festivals, such as the Shaw Festival are important to the local economy. The Shaw Festival attracts millions of visitors to the Niagara region annually—creating both revenue and jobs across the community. Today’s investment will help the Shaw Festival once again bring quality performances, visitors and economic opportunity to the region.”

– The Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“Festivals, art, and tourist attractions, such as the world-renowned Shaw Festival, make Niagara-on-the-Lake a destination of choice for visitors from near and far, with far-reaching impacts on our local economy. Investments, like the one made today for the Shaw Festival are helping to revitalize our major festivals and events sector, setting them up for a resilient future.”

– The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Quebec Lieutenant

“Our government is committed to ensuring the tourism, events, cultural and community sectors have the supports they need to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. The investment announced today for the Shaw Festival is making a difference for this festival which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Niagara Region each year and adds to the vibrant culture that makes Canada so special.”

– Chris Bittle, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines

“We cannot thank the federal government enough for this much needed support as we move through our 60th season; the largest and longest in our history. It is our intent to come back to our pre-COVID-19 attendance and economic impact levels as quickly as possible and this investment will help us do that. Our intrinsic relationship to the tourism and cultural ecologies of Niagara ensures that stabilizing our operations now will ensure a positive impact for all of us across these sectors as we all move forward together. On behalf of the 600+ artists, artisans and artworkers here at The Shaw, Thank you!”

– Tim Jennings, Executive Director, Shaw Festival

Quick facts:

Founded in 1962, the Shaw Festival generates over $220 million in economic activity each year for the Niagara Region.

Each year, the Shaw Festival, is comprised of 13 or more productions across four theatres in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and attracts more than 325,000 attendees to the Niagara region. This season, the festival will also deliver Fairground, a one-hour fair for all ages celebrating the arts from July 2 to September 2 and Shawground, a one-hour fair celebrating the time period of Bernard Shaw, from July 20 to October 6.

Niagara’s largest cultural charity, the Shaw Festival is one of Niagara’s 20 largest employers.

With a national budget of $200 million over two years, the Major Events and Festivals Support Initiative (MFESI) supports major Canadian festivals and events that have been hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19 to adapt and enhance their activities as the economy recovers. The program is delivered in southern Ontario by FedDev Ontario.

Since 2015, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has invested over $95 million in over 120 projects in the Niagara region, creating over 1,200 jobs and maintaining over 5,000 jobs.