Ophelia Lazaridis, co-chair of the Stratford Festival's Spirit of the Tent fundraising campaign for the new Tom Patterson Theatre, has pledged to match every new or second donation toward the project up to a total of $5 million.
With 90 per cent of the $100 million needed to pay for the Stratford Festival’s new Tom Patterson Theatre in the bag, a donor who had already committed $10 million to the project once again stepped up.
This time, Ophelia Lazaridis pledged to match up to $5 million in donations heading into the fundraising campaign’s final stretch.
Lazaridis, who also serves as co-chair of the festival’s Spirit of the Tent fundraising campaign, was a lead donor at the project’s outset, providing haner initial gift of $10 million in January 2018. Now, she is trying to push the campaign to reach its goal prior to the theatre’s grand opening next spring by pledging to match every new or second gift up to a total of $5 million.
“When I first heard about the ambitious plans to rebuild the Tom Patterson Theatre after 46 years of extraordinary productions, and heard about the exceptional work that will be presented there, I was very proud to join others in making an early and significant gift to the campaign,” Lazaridis said in a press release. “Over the past year and a half, so many have already joined in to support the Spirit of the Tent campaign, both from Canada and the United States. This generous support has allowed us to reach 90 per cent of our $100-million goal – and together we can complete this historic campaign for the Stratford Festival.”
According to Stratford Festival executive director Anita Gaffney, Lazaridis has not only supported the project financially but was also able to lend the festival her considerable experience on nearly every aspect of the theatre’s development, having worked on other building projects in the past.
“A challenge using matching grants is a really effective way to inspire people who maybe haven’t made a donation yet, or maybe those that have made donations to think about an additional donation, just following Ophelia’s example,” Gaffney said. “… Ophelia has just been a terrific source of counsel for us and has helped us to feel confident that we could set big goals and that we would be able to achieve them.
“She’s had a lot of experience with major fundraising campaigns and building projects, and it’s been just wonderful to have her looking in on things and giving us advice and cheering us on.”
While the new Tom Patterson Theatre is set to be unveiled in time for the 2020 season, and Festival executives hope to have $100 million on the books before then, Gaffney said Lazaridis will continue matching donations until the fundraising campaign reaches that final goal.
“She took our breath away by telling us that she would give a further matching gift of $5 million to take our campaign over the top,” Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino said in a press release. “That call from Ophelia was deeply moving. It revealed such a profound commitment to the arts in Canada.”
According to the Festival, the new Tom Patterson Theatre has been designed with every aspect of the theatre experience in mind – from seating and air handling to lighting and, of course, the stage itself. The Festival’s 2020 season will, appropriately, open with a production of Richard III at the new Tom Patterson Theatre featuring Colm Feore in the title role.
The season will also feature a number of other exciting events focused around the new theatre, including a dedication to Stratford Festival founder Tom Patterson on what would have been his 100th birthday – June 11, 2020.