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Stratford Festival faces $20-million budget shortfall despite cost cutting

Last Updated May 21, 2020 at 4:44 pm MDT

Stratford Police sit outside the Stratford Festival's Festival Theatre after the cancellation of the opening night performance of "The Tempest" in Stratford, Ont., on May 28, 2018. The Stratford Festival says despite efforts to rescue its finances from the impact of COVID-19, the organization is still has a $20-million hole in its annual budget. Carol Stephenson, chair of the board at the Stratford Festival, testified before a House of Commons standing committee on finance, asking for $8 million of support to get the arts organization back on its feet. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins

TORONTO — The Stratford Festival says despite efforts to rescue its finances from the impact of COVID-19 the organization still has a $20-million hole in its budget.

Carol Stephenson, chairwoman of the board at the festival, has asked the House of Commons standing committee on finance for $8 million to help get the arts organization back on its feet.

She says the rest of the shortfall can be raised through donations from the private sector.

Stephenson outlined measures the festival — a huge economic driver for the Stratford, Ont., area — has taken in recent weeks to recover from a steeper $40-million deficit projected about a month ago.

She says cuts to overhead expenses, drawing from the festival’s endowment, a $6-million line of credit and a 50 per cent salary cut for its executive director and artistic director have helped.

Stratford was to roll out 15 productions in four theatres, including Colm Feore’s “Richard III” as the inaugural show at the new $70-million Tom Patterson Theatre, before the closure of its theatres in March.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2020.

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David Friend, The Canadian Press