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Shaw Festival celebrates the 2010 season at Annual General Meeting

Media Release #4

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, January 28, 2011…The Annual General Meeting of the Shaw Festival Theatre Foundation for the 2010 season was held in the lobby of the Festival Theatre at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, January 28, 2011. Executive Director Colleen Blake, Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, members of the Shaw Festival Board of Governors, along with members of the Company, gathered to celebrate the 2010 season and receive the annual reports of the officers.

Hazel Claxton, Treasurer of the Board of Governors, reviewed the Shaw Festival’s financial position. She noted the effect the economy’s slow recovery had on early box office revenue. Despite this relatively sluggish start, however, ticket sales began to gain momentum once productions began previewing, great word of mouth spread and the Shaw Festival’s 49th season closed with strong box office results. Attendance reached 262,000 or 67.3% of capacity for 749 performances, a 3.6% increase over 2009’s attendance of 253,000.  Ticket sales reached $14.6 million, 2% higher than revenues of $14.3 million in 2009.

Ms. Claxton’s report also included details pertaining to the 2010 audited statements. Annual revenues from all sources were $27.4 million, down from $28.9 million in 2009 largely due to a considerable bequest of $3.2 million in 2009. Expenses of $28.7 million were $1.6 million higher than in 2009, reflecting additional marketing spending funded by grants, costs associated with union negotiations occurring early in the season and other expenses directly offset by additional revenues. The excess of expenses over revenues resulted in a deficit of $1.3 million compared to a surplus of $1.8 million in 2009. The 2010 revenue came from box office (59%) fundraising (20%), government grants (16%) and other revenues (5%). Ms. Claxton also noted that the Shaw Festival Endowment Foundation now manages investments of almost $19 million.

In her report, Executive Director Colleen Blake stated: “Our strategic goals for the 2010 season focused on building the audience and donor base, and while we did not achieve our budget, we are definitely headed in the right direction. Outcomes in both areas exceeded 2009 totals. Box office revenues were strong, momentum building dramatically after a slow start, confirming that the Shaw Festival is producing the kind of theatre that audiences from all across North America want to see, and at the level of excellence they have come to expect.” Ms. Blake also commented on the considerable growth experienced in The Shaw’s Membership and Governors Council programs and the remarkable support the 2010 season received from Industry Canada’s Marquee Tourism Events Program.

Janet McKelvey, reflecting on her final term as Board Chair, praised the Company for an outstanding season, applauded Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell’s artistic achievements of the past season and commended Executive Director Colleen Blake, along with the senior management team, on the results of the Strategic Plan’s second year implementation.

Assessing the 2010 season, Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell noted that: “the Festival’s season showcased a rich, creative, provocative playbill that challenged and resonated with audiences, further emphasizing the vitality and significance of The Shaw. We reinvented and reinvigorated plays and performance spaces this season, allowing new points of view and new access for our audiences. As we head into our landmark 50th season, we will continue to initiate the difficult conversations, clarify and contextualize ideas, but above all celebrate the innovative and essential theatre company that we embody.”

In 2010, The Shaw was proud to announce a new 3-year sponsorship with Visa Infinite. The season was also generously supported by many loyal production and program sponsors.

The Shaw Festival also acknowledges the support it received from the various levels of government partners: Canada Council for the Arts, the Marquee Tourism Events Program of Industry Canada, the Ontario Arts Council, Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Theatre Ontario and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake.

As a cultural tourism leader, The Shaw’s economic impact amounts to approximately $72.7 million annually to the local Niagara Region and 102.7 million to the province of Ontario. In 2010, of the 125,000 people (representing 262,000 tickets) that visited The Shaw, more than 90,000 were tourists, coming from at least 80 km away, a 16% increase over 2009.


In the spirit of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival provokes the mind and stirs the soul through a theatre experience so compelling that, year after year, ever-broadening groups of artists, audiences and supporters are drawn to our work in Niagara-on-the-Lake and beyond.

Please visit our website at www.shawfest.com/news for other Shaw Festival media releases. Financial statements and further information may be obtained by contacting:

Odette Yazbeck 
Public Relations Director 
905-468-2153 or 1-800-657-1106 ext. 2222                   

Jenniffer Anand
Public Relations Coordinator
905-468-2153 or 1-800-657-1106 ext. 2224

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