February 9, 2017
Posted by Nick Aroutzidis on Feb 09, 2017
February 16, 2017: Nick Aroutzidis “Update on NA Engineering Associates Inc.“. John Fisher will introduce our speaker and David Rose will thank our speaker.
Head Table: Our President Kevin Silver, invites, John Fisher, Gerry Culliton, Keith Culliton, Ed Dujlivic, Ryan Erb, Pat Feryn and Ian Fisher, to join him at the head table.
This Week: Jo-Anne Hood Tidman introduced Stratford Festival Executive Director Anita Gaffney. A Stratford native, Anita has longstanding connections to both the Festival and our Rotary Club through her father, Oliver, and sister, Elizabeth. Though she worked as a “cart girl” in her youth, her full-time career at the theatre began in 1991. She held various positions over the next several years, before being named Executive Director in 2012.
At that time, the theater had a 3.4 million dollar deficit, and attendance had dropped, due a decline in travel by Americans and an unfavorable exchange rate. The costly blockbuster productions of the preceding years had improved the Festival’s image internationally, but it was time for a re-think. When Festival management investigated the reasons people attend theater here, they discovered that for many it was an annual ritual. They had come first with parents or grandparents, to student productions, or summer theater camps. Ties were so strong that some considered Stratford a second home and purchased property here. Anita’s alma mater, the Ivey Business School did a case study to target those sentiments, identifying two key principles for future development: stability and innovation.
Stability honed in on the Festival’s traditional strengths: high quality productions with a strong focus on the classics. Innovation recognized the theatre’s efforts to encourage new playwrights, train actors and artisans, and enrich patrons’ experiences through ancillary events. Recent seasons have tied productions and other activities under a unifying theme that encourages patrons to expand their experience beyond the shows that initially attract them. The strategy has succeeded. The theatre’s annual budget is approx. 60 million dollars, with a modest surplus each year. Attendance sits at more than 500,000 (512,000 in 2016). A separate endowment fund has grown consistently and supports programs, like new plays and the conservatory, that do not earn a profit.
Competition from other theatre centers in Chicago, New York, London and Toronto, means that Stratford must continually set itself apart. The theatre has undertaken the decade long project of filming the entire Shakespeare canon, showcasing the high level of performance and quality production values inherent here. More than 200,000 people see these productions in cinemas each year, before they are broadcast on CBC, streamed on-line and sold on DVD. Study guides have been produced for the thousands of students who view them. The “Forum” has grown to encompass more than 200 ancillary events from special concerts, to mock trials, to workshops on topical political and social issues around the annual theme. Some people are attracted initially by Forum events and then discover the theatre. In addition to its schools for actors and directors, the Festival also has a ‘Laboratory’ for new plays. Authors are commissioned to write, the play is workshopped here and may eventually be performed eg. The Last Wife in 2015 and this year’s sequel The Virgin Trial. The Breathing Hole will be on stage this season, with an emphasis on authenticity from an Inuit perspective.
Capital projects place a further demand on resources, but are necessary. The 60-year-old Festival theatre building is being reroofed and there is a need to replace the Tom Patterson Theatre. The century old building that has been its temporary home for 45 years struggles to meet fire and building codes. A proposed plan, developed for the current site, would include an enlarged TP theatre, still in the round, a second auditorium for Forum events, other event and laboratory space, and restaurant facilities. The Festival is currently seeking funding from private donors and government agencies. They are working with the City to identify alternatives for relocating other users of the complex that currently houses the TP theatre, perhaps within a proposed new Community Hub on the Cooper site; though she acknowledged these groups would be displaced for a few years before that occurs. (She did not discuss the possibility of an alternative location for the new theatre when questioned.)
Ms. Gaffney was thanked by her sister Elizabeth, who pointed out the Gaffney history at the theatre and with Rotary, as exemplified by their father. Anita was a founding member of the Festival City Rotary Club and has worked tirelessly to ensure the continued success of the Stratford Festival and, by extension, the local community. For these reasons, our Club today awarded Anita Gaffney a Paul Harris Fellowship.
Scribe: Pat Shewen
New member: Kevin Nonomura was introduced to our Rotary Club as our newest member.
Paul Harris Fellow: Elizabeth Gaffney presented a Paul Harris to Anita Gaffney.
Guests: Today we welcome; Kevin Nonomura, Stratford, Laura Pogson, FCRC, Barbara Steed Young, FCRC, John Crabb, Kiwanis Club, Betty Gaffney, Stratford Lisa Breault, Stratford, Abate Bekule, Kitchener, Myona Inglis, Walkerton, Heather Carr, Stratford
The Aquabox Committee has 160 cardboard cartons 13"x13"x18" that it would like to give away. You pick up. Contact email@example.com if you are interested in any or all of them.
Draw: Paul Roulston today donated the prize and Al Wakelin was the winner.
Make-ups: Angus MacDermid February 8, at the Rotary Club of Fort Walton Beach.
February’s Attendance Committee: Jerry McEwin (I/C), Michael Fox, Shawn Malvern, Ryan Erb, Rob Roes, Rick Orr, Elizabeth Gaffney, Dan Kane, Wendy Anderson, Michael Bellai.
March’s Attendance Committee: Jo-Anne Hood Tidman (I/C), Rob Russell, Jim Scott, Dave Bean, Walt Bathe, John Wright, Andrea Page, Chris Thomson, Al Wakelin.