Its theatre season cancelled, Shaw Festival to host live, outdoor musical shows this fall

A month after cancelling most of its 2020 season, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake says it will be welcoming back audiences for outdoor performances.

In a Twitter post, Shaw Festival says they will be putting on a “series of musical performance opportunities and a few other surprises.”


The minister of economic development Mélanie Joly, who is responsible for FedDev Ontario, announced an “intention to provide a contribution of up to $400,000 to the Shaw to support outdoor theatre performances and support visitor activity in Niagara-on-the-Lake.”

She said the money would help the Shaw Festival to continue “welcoming visitors, adapt to the new reality and keep supporting the region’s visitor economy.”

“The Shaw will use these funds to provide free and low-cost outdoor performance activities and purchase equipment to ensure the safest possible experience for everyone,” said executive director of Shaw Festival, Tim Jennings in a media release. 

The festival postponed its season in the early months of COVID and announced in July that it was cancelling most of its 2020 season. It’s now attempting to salvage fall shows that start after Sept. 16 as well as its holiday season. 

The Shaw Festival normally brings in more than 250,000 attendees, is one of Niagara’s 20 largest employers, and generates over $220 million in economic activity each year.

Though it’s unclear what form the outdoor performances will take — whether they be multiple-act performances, snippets of cancelled shows, or more of a ‘concert’ style — theatre-goers can rejoice now that some portion of the live, Niagara theatre world is coming back. 

Another $500,000 will go to the tourism industry in Niagara-on-the-Lake, given in sums of up to $20,000 to small- and medium-sized businesses in the tourism sector.

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