The Shaw Festival is reporting gross revenues of $26,632 million, and posted an operating surplus of $113,891 for the 2021 season.
The announcement was made last week at Shaw’s Annual General Meeting, held online for the second year in a row.
Treasurer Greg Prince announced to the virtual audience of patrons, donors and company members that a combination of $3.89 million in ticket sales and earned revenues, more than $7.3 million in philanthropic donations, $6.7 million in federal wage and rent subsidies, $4.4 million in pandemic-related insurance coverage and $3.4 million in government grants led to the favourable financial situation.
In a press release, Prince pointed out that the donations from supporters were up $1 million over 2020. As well, an additional $1 million in additional Ontario Arts Council stability funding was a factor.
“Compared to how we found ourselves at the start of 2020, the amalgamation of this season’s surplus with last season’s results places the Festival in a slightly better fiscal position heading into 2022,” explained Prince. “Truly excellent stewardship of donor and government resources resulted in outstanding artistic achievements and the continued full employment of all Shaw Festival staff and artists.”
Once restrictions eased last year in early July, Shaw managed to present the largest North American theatre season of 2021. They delivered over 445 performances of 17 separate productions and concert series on six stages (three outdoor and three indoor) to an audience of 48,750.
Executive director Tim Jennings said his most profound satisfaction has come from the Festival’s ability to maintain employment and contracts for almost every one of its 550-plus staff and artists throughout the last two years.
“To know this place offered our team stability and shelter from some of the ravages of the pandemic makes it a lot easier to face these daily challenges,” Jennings said. “I am so thankful for all of the support we have received and so proud of our team here in managing through this remarkable year with such grace and fortitude. Particularly, I want to thank Peter Jewett for his tremendous leadership and friendship over the last five years.”
Jewett, the outgoing board chair, thanked the two Tims – Jennings and artistic director Tim Carroll – for their leadership.
“We have continuously focused on what we could do, not what we were prevented from doing,” Jewett told the online participants. “I am grateful for the thoughtful, caring, effective and tireless efforts that have guided us. The power of our art and the need for theatre has never been made clearer. We have been powerfully reminded of theatre’s role in creating deeper connections between all of us.”
Ian Joseph will be assuming the role held by Jewett for 2022. He joined the board in 2016 and chaired the Capital Asset Planning Committee and both the 2017 and 2020 Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Task Forces.
“Working alongside my fellow board members, staff and artists, I have been inspired by the thoughtfulness, openness and clarity of purpose that they continue to demonstrate,” Joseph said. “I especially commend members of the EDI Taskforce for their work last year.”
That task force presented 17 new recommendations last October. Following up on one of them, Khan Bouba-Dalambaye was appointed to the new role of Shaw’s Inclusion and Wellness Facilitator. Joseph looks forward to implementing more of the recommendations in the coming months.
Tim Carroll revealed the Shaw Festival company, “learnt a lot in 2020 and learnt even more in 2021.” He called the past season, “a year of miracles. We discovered a great deal about finding solutions while being almost unable to perform. Most of what we learnt, inevitably, was about the potential of the digital sphere.”
To Carrol, digital presentation helped to engage the Shaw audience, but just could not convey the excitement of live performance. He marvelled that when the company was finally able to perform again, though, almost 55,000 visitors attended over 2,300 education and outreach events in 2021.
Carroll also highlighted the work of Kiera Sangster, one of 11 embedded Shaw artists in a trial program this year.
“She contributed to this program all year,” he says. “It’s unique to Canada, offering full-time employment to artists, making the notoriously precarious life of this profession a little more settled. We hope to expand it further in the future.”
Shaw’s 2022 season continues with Cyrano de Bergerac, directed by David Abraham and starring Tom Rooney in the titular role and Deborah Hay as Roxanne. Sangster also has a role in the play that premieres Sunday, March 20 at 1 pm. For tickets and information visit shawfest.com.