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Sunday, December 4, 2022
$1M grant will help Shaw stage summer shows

Gail Kendall
Special to The Lake Report/Niagara Now

The nearly $1-million grant the Shaw Festival is receiving from the provincial government will be used to help staff and performers prepare for the 2021 season – though exactly what this year's shows will look like is unknown at the moment.

Executive director Tim Jennings says the Shaw is grateful for the $999,593 it is receiving as part of $25 million in COVID-related funding the government is giving to arts organizations across the province.

The Shaw, which has already been forced to cancel “Gypsy,” a major production that was held over from last year's cancelled season, hopes the money will keep artists and behind-the-scenes staff working on outdoor and other productions this season.

If indoor shows are able to resume, theatre capacity is expected to be substantially reduced. Meanwhile, Jennings said the company is preparing to hold more outdoor shows this year in various venues and will work with the existing relationships built with some wineries when the Shaw staged its concert series last year.

Many of the performers from 2020 will be returning, but last year's lost season and ongoing COVID concerns have prompted some people to change direction and find work elsewhere, and others are expanding their families, he said.

Both Jennings and Lord Mayor Betty Disero said the provincial grant recognizes the role the Shaw and Niagara-on-the-Lake play in attracting visitors and boosting the region's economy. 

Jennings noted that with the impact of COVID on people's mental health, the importance of the arts “on the health and well-being of the community has never been made clearer. The arts is a reflection of society around us.”

In announcing the contribution, tourism and culture minister Lisa MacLeod acknowledged, “Arts organizations make an important contribution to our province, providing thousands of jobs for musicians, writers, painters, actors, dancers, stagehands and the many others working behind the scenes.”

“Providing the help they need is a critical part of our plan to support individuals, families and job creators impacted by the virus, while laying the foundation for a strong economic recovery.”