THE SCOOP | Banff Centre Receives $750K Gift To Support Recovering Theatre Sector

By Anya Wassenberg on September 28, 2022

Niall McNeil as King Arthur at Banff Centre (Photo: Tristan Casey)
Niall McNeil in ‘King Arthur’s Night’ at Banff Centre (Photo: Tristan Casey)

The Banff Centre will receive a $750,000 gift from The Slaight Family Foundation to directly support theatre creators, producers and presenters. The gift is part of a package of $15 million in donations by the Slaight Family Foundation spread over 22 Canadian organizations, and recognizes the ongoing recovery of the theatre industry in the wake of extended pandemic closures.

It is hoped that the funds will allow theatre companies to take the kind of risks that economics might otherwise stifle, and will be used for artists’ fees, production development and marketing costs over the next two years.

Janice Price, President and CEO of Banff Centre was in Toronto, and commented at the media release.

“On behalf of Banff Centre’s Board of Governors, management, and staff, I thank The Slaight Family Foundation for this transformational gift. We are honoured to be the only Western Canadian institution selected as recipients of this wonderful grant. We sincerely appreciate the long-term relationship that we have enjoyed with The Slaight Family Foundation in support of the training, creation residencies, programming, and production endeavours that Banff Centre contributes to the national arts and culture ecosystem. I am confident that along with our dedicated colleagues in the theatre community across Canada, this generous investment will be a source of inspiration and a catalyst for recovery in the sector.”

In a statement, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity indicated the new funds would add impetus to their ongoing Strategic Plan. They will support:

  • The Banff Centre’s Playwrights’ Lab;
  • The Leighton Artist Studios.

Both programs help develop new Canadian theatre works. Several successful theatrical productions have been fostered at the Banff Centre, including Slime by Byron Lavery (2018); The Fish Eyes Trilogy by Anita Majumdar (2015); King Arthur’s Night by Niall McNeil and Marcus Youssef, (which toured internationally in 2017); and Betroffenheit, a theatre/dance piece created by Jonathan Young and Crystal Pite (which won an Olivier Award in 2015).

Gary Slaight, President and CEO of The Slaight Family Foundation, explained the motivation for the financial support. “The forced closure of theatres because of the pandemic has devastated the theatre industry,” he said. “Even now, with audiences nervous to return since reopening, we are still seeing shows being rescheduled and cancelled, sometimes the same day. We’re very happy to support these organizations, so they can focus on the work of creating and bringing back audiences.”

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