I’ve been wondering how anyone could top Antoni Cimolino’s recent success as Artistic Director at the Stratford Festival.
Today I received my answer.
“The Board of Governors of the Stratford Festival is pleased to announce that it is extending Antoni Cimolino’s term as Artistic Director for four years to 2022, the Festival’s 70th season.”Antoni Cimolino became Artistic Director with the 2013 season. At that same time Anita Gaffney was appointed Executive Director. Together they had the task of stabilizing the Festival’s finances after a $3.4-million deficit in 2012.
They created a strategic plan to strengthen the work on stage, reverse declining attendance and set the Festival on a strong course for the future. The chief components on the artistic side were the introduction of themed seasons, the Forum, the Laboratory and Stratford Festival HD.
Acknowledging that the Festival, like the entire theatre industry, needs to improve opportunities afforded women and people of colour, Cimolino is working to create conditions in which all artists can thrive, a commitment that influences new play development, playbill selection, casting and the selection of artistic teams.
Shakespeare For Young People
The Festival is also making progressive moves as it strives to introduce Shakespeare to young people.
The plan includes filming the entire Shakespeare canon over the next 10 years. A suite of educational apps is being developed for each film, as the Festival prepares to offer schools, colleges and universities the first North American collection of the Complete Works of Shakespeare on video.
Last year’s HD films opened at hundreds of screens in Canada, the U.S. and internationally. Plans are in the works to film the next round of Shakespeare productions from this current season for release in 2016
In 2014, the Festival marked the 20th anniversary of one of its most popular commissions, the James Reaney adaptation of “Alice Through the Looking-Glass.”
This hugely popular production, directed by Jillian Keiley, moved from Stratford to Canada’s National Arts Centre, the Charlottetown Festival, and The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and will soon be seen at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre. All of these productions featured regional casts but used the design and production elements created by the Festival.
Don’t miss my podcast with Jillian Keiley where she discusses the process behind directing “The Diary of Anne Frank” as well as her creative collaborations with designer Bretta Gerecke who alos collaborated with Keiley on “Alice Through the Looking-Glass.”
Gaffney & Cimolino Accomplishing Goals
The strategic plan developed Cimolino and Gaffney continues to evolve as goals are accomplished.
Since the beginning of Mr. Cimolino’s tenure, attendance has risen by 9%, and there have been two years of operating surpluses amounting to $2.5 million. In addition, the Festival’s Endowment has grown to $71 million from $56 million.“I want to build an even more artistically vibrant Festival that is a stronger resource for the public and for our artists,” says Cimolino. “It is crucially important that we continue to strengthen the company through exceptional training programs. Stratford must be a place where we can learn and grow as artists. At the same time, we must continue to enrich the relationship between Stratford and artistic communities across Canada and internationally, so that our work can be shared and experienced further afield.”
Cimolino hopes to attract private and public funds to expand the activities of the Laboratory, allowing a far greater appetite for risk, the handmaid of invention.
In addition to allowing time for pure exploration, he hopes the activities of the Lab will lead to the creation of new works of all kinds reflecting the cultural diversity of the country. An expanded Lab will also strengthen and diversify artists’ skills and will provide greater opportunities for the Festival to work with a broader spectrum of directors and creative artists, paving the way for larger, ambitiously conceived projects for future production.
by Keith Tomasek