Festival nets Ontario Trillium Grant funding

  • Business   Friday, February 11, 2022   

In the past two years, the Stratford Festival has received $400,000 in grants from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) and the Government of Ontario to help it with off-season operational support and costs associated with making theatrical spaces safer during the COVID-19 pandemic, including new sanitizing materials, upgrades and staff training. The work associated with these two grants is now complete. 

“I congratulate the Stratford Festival on their successful Ontario Trillium Foundation grants,” said Perth-Wellington MPP Randy Pettapiece. "The Festival is a cultural icon and a crucial economic driver. I have always supported its initiatives. We should never take for granted this cultural institution." 

In November 2020, the Festival received a $150,000 Resilient Communities Fund grant from OTF to help it make needed adaptations for its 2021 outdoor season – adding new stanchions to help with distancing, sanitizing equipment, training staff, and installing new contactless doors. The Resilient Communities Fund grant program was developed by OTF to help non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. 

Last summer, the Stratford Festival learned it was receiving a six-month $250,000 Community Building Fund grant from the Government of Ontario, which is being delivered by OTF to help with costs associated with purchasing ticketing, donation and call-centre software, as well as paying for utilities at all four of the Festival’s venues over the course of the grant.

“We are extremely grateful to the province for this vital support needed to cover expenses as we begin to emerge from the pandemic,” said Executive Director Anita Gaffney. “These items are essential to the operation and long-term survival of the Stratford Festival, providing a backbone that ultimately fuels the artistry on our stages. These past two years have been the most challenging of our history and the support of our government has never meant more.”  

Since its first season in 1953, the Stratford Festival has grown into a tourism powerhouse, contributing roughly $135 million each year to the economy of Stratford and the surrounding area, but in March of 2020 it was forced to cancel its entire season of 15 major theatre productions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In 2021 it was able to mount a season of outdoor performances under canopies, but given the restrictions in place it was able to attract only about 34,000 people, a fraction of its typical annual attendance of 500,000. As a result the Festival has faced two years of significant financial challenges, with little to no revenue coming in. 

The Festival is planning a full season of 10 productions in its four theatres in 2022 and will finally be able to hold the grand opening of its beautiful new Tom Patterson Theatre, which was built with generous support from the provincial and federal governments and was completed just as the world shut down in 2020.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. Last year, nearly $112M was invested into 1,384 community projects and partnerships to build healthy and vibrant communities and strengthen the impact of Ontario’s non-profit sector. In 2020/21, OTF supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.