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Stratford Festival 2017 Surplus $232,765

As published in The Stratford Beacon Herald, Sunday, March 25, 2018

Following a year dominated by its fundraising efforts for a new Tom Patterson Theatre, its 65th anniversary and Canada's 150th birthday, the Stratford Festival announced a surplus of $232,765 for 2017 at its annual general meeting on Saturday.

For the 2017 season, the festival's total revenue added up to $60,704,595, with the festival's expenses totaling $60,471,830. From May to November, the Stratford Festival sold 456,905 tickets, generating more than $30.3 million and representing a growth in ticket sales of seven per cent over last year.

"This is our fifth consecutive surplus – and a nice way to cap off an extraordinary year," said Anita Gaffney, the festival's executive director. "But perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the 2017 season is that it was not extraordinary. Every season at Stratford is a miracle – we start with two planks and a passion, and in just a few short weeks those two planks are filled with a pageant of artistry and imagination for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come to Stratford each year. Miracles are what we do."

Ten thousand of those visitors, roughly 15 per cent, were young people attending with their families or as part of a school group. Tickets purchased for last year's Shakespeare productions – Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night and Timon of Athens -- represented approximately 25 per cent of the overall attendance, while the season's extended productions – Guys and Dolls, The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Virgin Trial and The Breathing Hole -- sold an additional 10,000 tickets. Guys and Dolls ended its run as the third-highest grossing production in the last 10 seasons.

"It was a year of remarkable achievement," said the festival's artistic director, Antoni Cimolino. "We presented an extraordinary range of plays, from the ancient Greeks to new work that has earned international recognition. We enlarged the identity of our company, bringing in new talents and forging new connections. And during all this, we managed to raise just under $80 million to begin our long-anticipated renewal of the Tom Patterson Theatre."

Fundraising in 2017 increased by two per cent to almost $14.3 million, representing more than 23 per cent of the festival's revenue. On top of those donations, the festival also raised nearly $80 million -- $40 million in government grants and roughly $40 million through private donations – in anticipation of the launch of its Spirit of the Tent campaign to raise money for a new, $100 million Tom Patterson Theatre.

While there was much to celebrate at this year's annual general meeting, those in attendance had to bid farewell to Dan Bernstein as he announced his retirement from the festival's board of governors at the end of his three-year term as chair.

"It's been said that a path to a happy life is through meaningful work and meaningful relationships… I stand here today to say that my involvement with Stratford and the board has been some of the most meaningful work of my life, truly," Bernstein said.

During his time on the board, Bernstein helped the festival recover from the economic decline of 2008 and 2009, he oversaw the hiring of Gaffney and Cimolino, helped reorganize the festival's long-term plans, and helped launch new initiatives such as the Festival Forum, the Festival HD series, and the push to build a new Tom Patterson Theatre, among others.

Taking over for Bernstein as chair is board of governors members Sylvia Chrominska.


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