Stratford Festival Posts Surplus For 2023 Season

It ended the year with a surplus of $404,000.

By: Mar. 20, 2024
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The Stratford Festival has concluded the 2023 season with a surplus. At a time of global retrenchment in the performing arts, the Festival mounted a full season of 13 productions across all of its four venues, along with more than 150 events in the Meighen Forum. It ended the year with a surplus of $404,000. 

“The 2023 season attracted attendance of more than 443,000, which is up 35% from 2022,” said Executive Director Anita Gaffney. “We are steadily building back audiences and introducing new ones. In 2023, more than 30% of tickets were sold to first-time patrons. Visitors came from across Canada and around the globe, with 18% of revenue originating in the U.S. The strong demand for tickets enabled us to extend the runs of Rent and Monty Python's Spamalot.”

Attendance exceeded the season target, a magnificent accomplishment as theatres struggle to win back audiences. Attracting those audiences were four vastly different Shakespeare productions, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Richard II and Love's Labour's Lost; two musicals, Rent and Monty Python's Spamalot; three modern classics, Les Belles-Soeurs, Grand Magic and Wedding Band; two new adaptations of classic novels, A Wrinkle in Time and Frankenstein Revived; and the new plays Casey and Diana and Women of the Fur Trade.

“In 2023 our stages glowed from the imaginative sparks of the Festival artists and craftspeople,” said Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino.

“At a difficult time for theatre I'm proud to say that this was not a year of retrenchment for the Festival but rather a season filled with adventure, risk and accomplishment. We produced four exciting works by Shakespeare, and each was strikingly original in every way. Our musicals touched hearts and delighted our audiences. New work ranged from movement-based creations to potent script-based narratives that have already transferred to theatres in other cities, and we also presented a wide range of more contemporary classics. The fact that we drew a strong audience and were able to balance our expenses with revenues is the final piece of happy news,” he said.

The Meighen Forum contributed to the success of the season, offering more than 150 special performances, panel discussions, workshops, speakers and more, all specifically shaped around the season playbill. These events allow patrons to engage even more with the work on stage.

“It's been wonderful to see patrons connecting with one another around the works on stage once more. Their connection reaches an even deeper level at the Meighen Forum, which sold more than 15,000 tickets in 2023,” said Gaffney.

Total revenue for 2023 amounted to $80.1 million and expenses were $79.7 million, resulting in a surplus of $404,000. Ticket sales revenue was consistent with pre-pandemic levels. However, expenses increased by 25% since 2019. The gap was closed by the incredibly generous support of Festival donors – individuals who supported the Festival's annual fundraising campaign and the special pandemic relaunch campaign. Contributed revenues in 2023 increased by 62% from 2019.

“The 2024 season starts preview performances in just four weeks,” said Cimolino. “Our spaces are abuzz with activity, with seven of our 12 shows now rehearsing. From the rehearsal hall to the workshops to the orchestra loft to the front of house, we're readying ourselves for a wonderful season that invites you to ‘a world elsewhere.'”

The Festival is a not-for-profit charitable organization and its purpose is to spark human imagination through the art of live theatre. At the same time, the Festival is a catalyst for economic activity in the city of Stratford and beyond. In 2023, the Festival commissioned a new economic impact study from Sport Tourism Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Tourism Research Institute and the Conference Board of Canada.

The study found that the total economic impact of the Stratford Festival is approximately $276.7 million. It also found that the Festival supports roughly $46.2 million in taxes to the local, provincial and federal governments through direct and spin-off effects throughout Canada.

In 2023, the Festival passed a significant landmark, topping $1 billion in ticket sales and surpassing attendance of 29.7 million since the Festival's first season in 1953.

The 2024 season will begin on April 16 with the first preview of the hilarious musical comedy Something Rotten! The season, which will continue through October 27, also features Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, London Assurance, La Cage aux Folles, Wendy and Peter Pan, Salesman in China, Cymbeline, Hedda Gabler, The Diviners, The Goat or, Who Is Sylvia and Get That Hope. For tickets and more information visit the button below or call the box office at 1.800.567.1600.