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Frequently Asked Questions

“You were asking…”

Does the Festival support PAL Stratford?

The Festival, through its Artistic Director Des McAnuff and General Director Antoni Cimolino, has strongly endorsed this undertaking of PAL Stratford.

"We have committed to support the efforts of PAL Stratford. PAL is an important service to the theatre community and it is with great enthusiasm that we applaud their efforts."

Over the years, PAL Stratford has received major support from the Festival by way of donating the Avon Theatre for use in PAL’s annual fundraiser, Expect the Extraordinary. For this event, Festival company members, backstage workers and Front of House staff have given of their talent and time to contribute to the reality of a PAL Stratford residence.

The Theatre Store is the major outlet for our Desmond Heeley “The Performers” note cards, sales of which contribute some $2,000.00 annually to PAL Stratford’s revenues. Desmond is a Life Member of PAL Stratford.

What is PAL Stratford’s standing in the community?

The PAL Stratford business plan has been carefully prepared with the help of professionals, including independent housing consultants, as well as experts in the many relevant departments at Stratford City Hall. Our project was encouraged and endorsed by each department including support in several motions by Council as a whole. It has received personal endorsements in writing from the Mayor, His Worship Dan Mathieson, Gary Schellenberger our federal Member of Parliament, and Randy Pettapiece our member of the provincial legislature. The Patron of PAL Canada is His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada.

Our financial information is submitted annually to Canada Revenue Agency to maintain our charitable status. Other levels of government also reviewed our past financial statements, and our projections for the future, in evaluating our affordable housing application.

Why is it beneficial for members of the artistic community to live together?

For many people in the arts, existence is job-to-job, hand-to-mouth, seasonal and transitory. As self-employed artists, they are not able to participate in the financial benefits and safety nets that most of us take for granted. There are no employer-sponsored pensions, and RRSP’s are, for many, a financial tool they simply cannot utilize. Other members of the profession frequently become their “families,” and at career’s end, artists often find themselves alone. Few performing artists are successful in putting down roots and building a secure foundation for the future.

Why was a downtown location selected?

Surveys of our members clearly indicated a preference for a central downtown location. The location of 101 Brunswick is within walking distance to food markets, the library, buses, the train station, and, of course, theatres. It is highly unlikely that, given the parameters for eligibility, PAL Place residents will own cars.

Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax have chapters of PAL Canada. In each case the members involved take pride in safeguarding the well-being of their artistic community. Furthermore, they recognize that having a creative community living in the downtown core is good for the vitality of the heart of the city.

Why not arrange for accommodation in existing retirement residences?

PAL Stratford’s journey over the last ten years included several attempts to participate in other seniors residences. We quickly learned that these relationships did not fit our mandate. PAL residences are not assisted living buildings, and residents are expected to enjoy independent lives. As well, PAL’s in-depth research and exploration into partnering with other new or existing residences led to the conclusion that we could not justify a non-profit charitable organization renting from a for-profit business and end having no real property as an asset.

How will tenants for PAL Place be selected?

As the housing provider, PAL Stratford will establish an application review committee to consider applications from potential residents. The criteria for eligibility are stipulated by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing via the City of Stratford’s Social Service department.

The units will be between 500 to 600 square feet in size and will be entirely self-contained with kitchen and bath. They will rent for no more than 80% of average market rents in Stratford. Rent levels are mandated by the Investment in Affordable Housing program (IAH).

Will the PAL residence be just for artists?

No. If in need of support, our mandate is to ensure people who have worked in the arts aren’t overlooked, but others meeting the age and income requirements are also eligible.

What is PAL’s Supporting Cast?

PAL Stratford’s Supporting Cast, a group of volunteers, has been active in maintaining the PAL motto: “Caring for Our Own”. Supporting Cast seeks to minimize the sense of isolation that frequently accompanies the aging process. One of the ways in which it achieves this goal is by coordinating assistance for members of our arts community who have special needs. These services include enabling contact with local social service organizations, driving assistance to get to doctors appointments or for shopping, as well as a free taxi service for our less mobile members. In addition, PAL Stratford hosts a weekly coffee group as well as other functions to promote conversation and companionship.

PAL’s fundraising history

In 2000, even before becoming incorporated, the leaders of PAL Stratford recognized the need to develop their financial resources. In that year a fundraising “Cabaret” was staged. The Festival donated the Avon Theatre. Performers, musicians and crew, all Company Members, donated their time and talents. The evening raised over $ 8,000 and set the pattern for subsequent years. With the addition of a silent auction, our annual event has become known as Expect the Extraordinary. Company Members continue to support our presentations of concert versions of popular musicals or produce their own original variety shows.

Over the years, PAL members have organized garage and rummage sales (the 2011 sale raised more than $ 2,000). In addition PAL has partnered with other groups in our community to hold art shows, acting and voice workshops, craft shows, and an afternoon with international opera stars.

With the dream of a PAL residence in our hearts, the result of these fundraising activities has been healthy savings. Since the offer to purchase the property was made in May 2011, we have drawn on a substantial amount of our reserves to pay for the necessary inspections, surveys, appraisals, engineering reports, architectural plans, and rezoning application, as well as the actual down payment for the purchase.

Copyright © 2019 PAL Stratford (a chapter of PAL Canada)
Original web design and hosting donated in memory of former PAL board member Bruce Swerdfager.
Home page header images by Marg Boemer, Lynn Boehler, Amanda Ryan.
PAL Stratford logo design courtesy of Maxine Graham.