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Aug. 8, 2020 | Saturday
Entertainment News
Shaw Festival near financial 'breaking point,' CEO says
Shaw executive director Tim Jennings. (Supplied)

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the Shaw Festival to near the "breaking point" financially and the company has now cancelled all events until after June 30, says executive director and CEO Tim Jennings.

"We continue to work closely with government agencies around the various new programs being put in place and also with our bank, funding agencies and other business partners to do what we can to remain solvent,”  Jennings said in a news release Monday.

“That said, we have stretched our resources nearly to the breaking point and need this outside help to come very soon if we are to maintain that solvency. ”

The Shaw said it will keep paying the almost 400 company members who are on payroll through April 19 and will continue to evaluate the situation weekly.

However, the festival announced it will not be recalling four dozen company members who were scheduled to start right after Easter. They won't return until the Shaw is back on the stage.

“These increased measures and the loss of so much of the season are deeply upsetting," said Jennings,

The Shaw's latest cancellations coincide with the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake extending to June 30 its declaration of a state of emergency and ban of all public events and meetings.

With the first three months of shows cancelled, it's not known yet if the Shaw will be able to stage any plays this season, but the company remains hopeful.

“You wouldn't believe how much great work this company is still doing, in spite of all the obstacles and uncertainty," said artistic director Tim Carroll.

“Of course, it is frustrating to be pushing back the date when we hope to perform, but I know we will be ready with deeper and better artistry than ever before. And I also know, because they tell me every day, how happy our audience will be to share it,” he said.

The troubling financial concerns come less than a month after the festival celebrated its most successful fiscal year ever.

At its annual general meeting in March, the Shaw announced that in 2019 it saw a 13 per cent increase in gross operating revenue. That resulted in an all-time-high of $34.1 million in revenue, with one-third of all revenues coming from donations. In 2018, revenue was $30.2 million.

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