Speaking at the Stratford Festival annual general meeting Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and Executive Director Anita Gaffney reported a 3% increase in attendance and a 5% increase in revenue, resulting in a surplus of $559,000.
Overshadowing the announcement of the successful 2015 season is the Festival’s evolution from a geographically based event to an international brand, well positioned to leverage digital delivery of the arts to increase reach.
“This past year we’ve seen a paradigm shift – toward a Festival ‘season’ that spans 365 days,” Ms. Gaffney said.
The Festival is well into digital distribution through film screenings, TV broadcasts, DVDs, and Forum events that are available online via CBC Radio.
“We’re shifting from a theatre company that hosts some 475,000 patrons over six months in Stratford to one that connects with millions of people both here and around the world throughout the entire year.
It has been an amazing transformation, in terms not only of the sheer number of people we’re reaching but also the relative speed with which we’ve achieved this exponential growth in our reach.”
Revenue for the 2015 season was $60.1 million, up 5% from 2014’s $57.4 million.
Contributions from government were down 8% with the festival reporting $3.6 million this year compared to $3.9 million the previous year. That’s down from $5 million in 2013.
US Ticket Sales Up
2015 attendance was 475,742, up 3% from 462,132 in 2014.
The Festival attracted more than 102,000 new patrons, and saw a 50% increase in family ticket sales. Sales to American patrons grew by 2% in 2015.
Roughly 30,000 people attended Forum events.
The Physicists a Surprise Hit
Also worth noting is that the Festival continues to push boundaries and foster its reputation for artistic excellence.
“For me, a surprising and gratifying discovery was the extraordinary popularity of ‘The Physicists,’” said Mr. Cimolino.
“I had expected that a somewhat quirky work by a Swiss playwright would have a niche appeal. I had no idea there’d be such demand for Dürrenmatt. But that’s one of the great boons we offer: repertoire our audiences can’t readily find elsewhere, performed to the highest standard.”
See all the reviews of the “The Physicists” here.
The exciting work continues in 2016 with the new adaptation and abridgement “Breath of Kings,” Stratford veteran Graham Abbey’s interpretation of the Henriad presented as two separate productions.
Given the growing popularity of Stratford’s Shakespeare productions, in 2014 ticket sales were up 24% over 2013, and 43% over 2012, audiences are primed for Abbey’s exploration that could make theatre history.
In previous years the AGM included announcements of cast recordings, “Crazy For You,” “Carousel,” but no such announcement was made this year.
by Keith Tomasek