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Shaw Festival Executive Director to retire from The Shaw in early spring 2012

Media Release #33

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, September 26, 2011…After over 17 years as Executive Director, Colleen Blake will be leaving the Shaw Festival in early spring 2012.

In announcing her decision to move on, Ms. Blake commented that, as the 50th season comes to an end, the timing was right to take stock, look forward to her own future and The Shaw’s.

“The Shaw is an incredibly creative company, full of dedicated and talented people who give their all on a continual basis,” reflected Ms. Blake. “It has been an enormous privilege to share the leadership of this remarkable organization with Jackie Maxwell since 2002 and with Christopher Newton before that.”

“To have Colleen Blake as a partner in the complex, thrilling, but often difficult job of making great theatre, as I have had for the past 10 years, is to know that you have the ultimate collaborator by your side,” noted Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell. “Her ability to promote, question, encourage, yet reconfigure when necessary, is unmatched. Her commitment to, and love of theatre shines through at all times. The Shaw Festival has benefited from her great leadership for 17 years, and so it is on behalf of all of us, that I send Colleen a heartfelt thank you and wish her well in, what will no doubt be, a new rich period in her life.”

“Under Colleen’s stewardship, the Shaw Festival has evolved not only in size but also in stature and has become a very important economic driver in the Niagara Region,” remarked Gary Comerford, Board of Governors Chair.

While the search for a new Executive Director will begin immediately, Ms. Blake will continue in her current role until her successor is appointed.

Ms. Blake was born in Alberta, educated in Canada and the United States, and is a graduate of the University of Windsor with an honours degree in English. She is the recipient of the 1972 Jean A. Chalmers Apprentice Award (awarded annually by the Stratford Festival to young professionals) and the 1983 Pauline M. McGibbon Award (awarded by the Ontario government for excellence in the early stages of a theatre professional’s career). In June 2004, Ms. Blake was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the University of Windsor.

Ms. Blake’s extensive career in the theatre includes an 18-year association with the Stratford Festival in positions ranging from stage manager through production manager and Director of Production to six years as Producer. She also worked as Production Manager of Young People’s Theatre and General Manager of the Bastion Theatre Company in Victoria, B.C.

Renowned for her generosity with both her time and her vast expertise, Ms. Blake has served on numerous steering committees and boards for various arts agencies and professional associations, as well as treasurer for the Board of the Niagara Economic Development Corporation and a past member of the Bicentennial Legacy Council. A past president of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Rotary, Ms. Blake was recognized for her contributions to the Rotary Club of Niagara-on-the-Lake with a Paul Harris Award. Since August 2009, Ms. Blake has been a member of the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s Advisory Council and is also currently on the boards of both Studio 180 and Niagara College.


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/the-news-room for other Shaw Festival media releases. 

Image Bank & B-Roll
Our digital image bank features 300 dpi photographs of this season’s productions, the 2011 Ensemble, as well as photographs of our theatres, Bernard Shaw and the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Broadcast quality B-roll of our productions is also available.

To access our image bank or to have DVDs or Beta tapes delivered to you, please contact:

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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