This press release was sent out on October 18th, 2022.
Grand River, ON – Lighthouse Festival returned this summer, following two years of pandemic closures, to a keen audience of theatre lovers who sold out performances and saw an overall attendance of 40,000 take in the season. The season’s success is partly due to the $250,000 Community Building Fund – Operating Stream grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) that Lighthouse received in September 2021. This grant allowed Lighthouse to rebuild its administrative team over the winter in preparation to launch the season this past February.
“This grant, given in 2021, was vital to assisting the Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s ability to survive through shutdowns,” said Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Bobbi Ann Brady. “Theatre goers near and far will be thankful for the continued success of this lynchpin in the Port Dover tourism economy.”
“As with many arts organizations during the pandemic, Lighthouse was closed for an extended period and had to make the difficult decision to reduce the team,” said Executive Director Nicole Campbell. When the world started to re-open and it looked like Lighthouse would be able to have a full season, Campbell knew she needed to fill those positions again.
“Receiving the operational grant was vital to re-establishing our team so we could launch the season and start selling subscriptions and tickets at the start of this year,” said Campbell. “Operational grants are not very common but following two years of ever-changing restrictions and closures, the number one priority had to be building our administrative foundation back up and Ontario Trillium Foundation recognized that need.”
The funding meant that Lighthouse was able to fill most positions that had been in place for the 2021 season, but also realize an opportunity they had been working on over the pandemic- building the sets for the plays in-house. The OTF funding created the opportunity to hire a carpenter in the winter to start working on sets instead of having them built by an outside company and then shipped down to the theatre.
The Community Building Fund’s operational stream also helped supplement building maintenance, which was a huge help for the Port Dover location as the theatre’s home is the historic town hall originally built in 1904. Managing a heritage building requires extra attention and though the theatre was closed for over 18 months straight, the building needed just as much attention as when the theatre is running at full capacity.
“Caring for a heritage building and recognizing the history that has taken place under this roof, is a great privilege,” said Campbell. “It is also a great responsibility to keep on top of repairs and find creative ways to include modern necessities while respecting the original building. The OTF funding helped cover those expenses in a time when our main source of revenue – ticket sales – was reduced significantly.”
With a successful 2022 season under its belt, Lighthouse has already announced the playbill for the 2023 season with tickets going on sale to the public on November 14th. It promises to be another laugh-filled summer with three world premieres and two productions from iconic Canadian playwright Norm Foster. To see all the events taking place at Lighthouse visit their website at www.lighthousetheatre.com.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation’s (OTF) mission is to build healthy and vibrant communities across Ontario. As an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations, OTF invested nearly $209M into 2,042 community projects and partnerships last year, including funding for the Government of Ontario’s Community Building Fund. Since 2020, OTF has supported Ontario’s economic recovery by helping non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Visit otf.ca to learn more.