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Stratford Festival attendance and revenue up in 2013
As published in The Toronto Star

Mary Stuart, with Lucy Peacock and Seana McKenna, was part of the Stratford Festival's successful 2013
season, which saw attendance and revenues up.

By: Richard Ouzounian Theatre Critic,
Published on Sat Mar 29 2014

Antoni Cimolino and Anita Gaffney’s first season as artistic director and general manager of the Stratford Festival, respectively, has certainly paid off.

In the 2013 season, attendance was up 11 per cent, revenue increased 5 per cent, expenses were down 3.5 per cent and the bottom line was an operating surplus of $1.4 million.

The attendance increase is the highest since 1999, reversing the downward trend of recent years.

David Goldbloom, chair of the board of governors, praised Cimolino and Gaffney “for their intelligence, passion, artistry, vigilance to detail and ultimately their success. The festival is in good and wonderful hands.”

Many things combined to make the season a success, but foremost among them was the playbill that Cimolino assembled, which received widespread critical acclaim and led to five of the productions being held over; one of them (Mary Stuart) an unprecedented four times.

Cimolino’s introduction of The Forum also proved to be a winner. This series of 150 events, which included concerts, speeches, debates, workshops and varied theatrical events, brought out 30,000 people to hear the likes of Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada; former Canadian UN ambassador Stephen Lewis; former Chief of Defence Staff John de Chastelain; author Adam Gopnik and human rights activist Sally Armstrong.

Besides keeping a firm hand on the financial tiller, Gaffney also contributed to the black ink by instituting the Stratford Direct, a $20 return bus service from downtown Toronto that 15,000 people took advantage of, 53 per cent of whom had never been to the festival before.

And Gaffney’s “2-for-1 Tuesdays” added 12,000 additional patrons.

Plans for the 2015 season include the debut of Stratford@Play, a program to film three different productions each season for viewing around the world.

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