Stage Door News
Niagara-on-the-Lake: Shaw Festival posts significant fundraising results for 2022
Friday, March 10, 2023
For the first time since March 2020, an audience gathered today in the Festival Theatre lobby and joined patrons, donors and company members watching online to hear the financial results of the 2022 season. During the Shaw Festival’s Annual General Meeting, Treasurer Greg Prince announced the Shaw Festival attained operating revenues of $35.7 million – The Shaw’s largest operating revenue level ever – and posted an operating surplus of $7,000 for the 2022 season, the most multi-faceted and extensive season yet produced at The Shaw.
“This year continued to be unpredictable and saw dramatic increases in sick time and related staff coverage, so it is heartening to see any kind of surplus. This was reached through a combination of $13.54 million in ticket sales and earned revenues, an amazing $11.8 million in philanthropic donations – up $4 million over last year and our best fundraising year ever; $8.1 million in COVID-19 support, with the majority of that coming from the Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative (MFESI) of the Federal Development Agency for Southern Ontario, and $2.2 million in our annual provincial and federal arts council operating grants,” detailed Mr. Prince. “While our operations effectively broke-even, for the first time in several years, we are reporting an accounting deficiency totaling $1.1 million – a result of the impact of increasing amortization expenses – which has reduced our total accumulated surplus to $258,000. Still, a very good result for an exceptional programmatic year.”
Commenting on the results, Board Chair Ian Joseph said, “excellent stewardship of donor and government resources resulted in outstanding artistic achievements and the continued full employment of all Shaw Festival staff and artists.” He added that “first-rate management by the Festival’s Endowment Foundation Board also mitigated much of the declines seen across the market and allowed the Foundation to remain above $36 million in endowed funds, even after providing the annual distribution to The Shaw.”
In 2022, the Festival presented 783 of 811 scheduled performances, 17 separate productions and a concert series on five stages (two outdoor and three indoor) plus shows in the community – to an audience of 170,803. Beyond the stage, 3,943 events, classes, workshops and activities engaged 60,903 participants – the largest numbers for add-on experiences and attendance in The Shaw’s 60-year history.
“TC, Kimberley and their creative teams – and indeed all of our artists, crews, artisans and staff – should be very proud of the work that went onto all our indoor and outdoor stages. Despite all adversity, the work was truly wonderful,” stated Mr. Joseph. “I am very thankful for all the effort and initiative of so many people to make that possible. I must also thank our amazing Board and our two executive leaders, Tim Jennings and TC. Their work in guiding The Shaw through these last three tumultuous years has been nothing short of remarkable. We have said it before, but we are most fortunate to have them. I also offer a big thank you to outgoing board member Vivien Dzau, and to all our Board of Governors, our Shaw Festival (U.S.A.) Board and the Board of our Endowment Foundation.”
“I noted last year that a vision for the future of The Shaw has evolved under the leadership of TC and Tim Jennings, along with the dynamic Kimberley Rampersad. It is a vision – wholly supported by our Boards – of a theatre focused on real human connection, one that values and encourages more interaction and understanding between our audiences, artists and communities. It is a vision that seeks to serve the greater societal needs that art and gatherings in-person can best serve. We have begun the work of examining what physical assets will need to be acquired, modified or rebuilt to meet our needs. We are striving to be in a position to present our developed vision for this to the public in the coming months.”
Executive Director Tim Jennings admitted that his profound satisfaction has come mainly from “our ability to maintain employment and contracts for all 600 of our staff and artists throughout the pandemic. Despite unbelievable challenges, our team remained stable and sheltered from most of the financial and other impacts of the pandemic, even if COVID-19 mitigation continued to be exhausting and frustrating for everyone.”
He also mirrored Mr. Joseph’s recognition of the leadership the Festival received from Artistic Director Tim Carroll and Associate Artistic Director Kimberley Rampersad throughout the 2022 season.
“TC and Kimberley led our artists and created our largest and longest season of live theatre – and the work was truly remarkable. I witnessed first-hand how hard they both worked and wish to thank them for that leadership,” acknowledged Mr. Jennings. He went on to thank the “whole Shaw management team, staff, artists, Guild members and all four of our amazing Boards for their work and continued faith in us and in our vision for a more deeply connected world through theatre.”
“The real heroes of 2022 were, without question, the understudies – and not just the ones you saw on stage. Backstage was often just as crazy with stage crew, stage managers, dressers, wig technicians, etc., covering each other’s jobs, sometimes while trying to do their own one as well,” remarked Artistic Director Tim Carroll. “And don’t forget, not only every understudy who went on (and nearly half of our performances featured a change from the advertised cast), but every understudy who didn’t go on, had to be fitted and dressed in their own costume and rehearsed into the staging. So, the heroic work began long before the dreaded ‘Guess what?’ phone call came in.”
“In spite of it all, we pulled off an incredibly ambitious season. The outdoor events were a huge hit. We made some marvellous theatre. And we spent time together, making and experiencing live art. There is nothing like the feeling of exercising our creativity and imagination in the company of other people,” reflected Mr. Carroll. “Last year proved, beyond any doubt, that our souls feel better for doing so. And it gave a tantalising hint of what we might be able to achieve if our vision for the next generation at The Shaw can be realized.”