Shaw Festival Theatre Canada held its Annual General Meeting for the 2012 season on Friday, January 25, 2013 in the lobby of the Festival Theatre. In attendance were members of the Shaw Festival Board of Governors led by outgoing Chair Gary Comerford, Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, Executive Director Elaine Calder and members of the Company, supporters and friends - all of whom had gathered to celebrate the results of the 2012 season.
Mr. Comerford expressed the feelings of many when he congratulated the management team and Board on achieving a surplus of $19,000 on the season. He recalled that at the same meeting last year, when very different results were announced, Treasurer Hazel Claxton spoke of the need to take "aggressive action to right size the cost structure to align to more conservative revenue estimates." At that time, Ms. Claxton was responding to two consecutive seasons of significant losses. Mr. Comerford noted that management and the Board had responded to this challenge and set a direction over the past twelve months that had achieved a truly remarkable outcome in spite of the difficult economic climate.
In particular, he thanked Artistic Director Jackie Maxwell, who for eight months of the year assumed the position of Executive Director in addition to her own duties and her work as director of Ragtime and Come Back, Little Sheba. He said Ms. Maxwell, Director of Finance Thom Friesen, and the management team as a whole had worked hard to make progress towards financial sustainability, avoid additional deficits and weather some challenging revenue shortfalls.
Ms. Calder, who joined the Shaw in September, took no credit for the financial results. She thanked Mr. Comerford for his great commitment as Chair over the past two seasons and joined him in complimenting the oversight of Ms. Claxton and the Finance Committee and the leadership of Ms. Maxwell and the management team. She said she was impressed by the thoughtful approach taken by the Board and the discipline practiced by the entire company in ensuring a $1.5 million turnaround in a single year.
"As we celebrate our financial turnaround, we must also toast our 2012 season which saw artistic triumphs beyond our expectations," said Ms. Maxwell. "Ragtime enabled us to start our second fifty years with a new and vital story previously untold at The Shaw and packed, hugely enthusiastic houses were the result. Our Shaw plays were tremendously successful and our brilliant ensemble dazzled in shows as diverse as Hedda Gabler and His Girl Friday, Come Back, Little Sheba and Present Laughter. Guided by strong direction and vivid designs, our storytelling was rich, detailed and compelling."
In her remarks, Ms. Claxton reviewed the highlights of The Shaw's financial results. The $1.5 million improvement in the bottom line was accomplished despite a reduction in both earned and contributed income after the excitement of the 50th anniversary season in 2011. Employees, volunteers and Board members worked together to identify $3.5 million in expense reductions, bringing The Shaw's budget down from more than $30 million to less than $27 million. Going forward, the Company will continue to focus on carefully managing costs and generating increased revenues from all sources.
As she concluded the meeting, Ms. Maxwell went on to say: "When people talk of theatre as a collective effort, they are usually referring to the work onstage. In this case, it absolutely refers to the hard work, talent, generosity and willing collaboration of every single person connected to this extraordinary organization."
Tickets are on sale now for the Festival's 52nd season, which features 10 productions presented from April 3 to October 27: Guys and Dolls; Lady Windermere's Fan; Enchanted April; Peace in our Time: A Comedy; The Light in the Piazza; Trifles; Our Betters; Major Barbara and Faith Healer. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.shawfest.com or call 1-800-511-7429.