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Stratford Festival launches fundraising for new Tom Patterson theatre


January 16, 2018
by Canadian Architect

Designed by Siamak Hariri of Toronto’s Hariri Pontarini Architects, the new Tom Patterson Theatre is set to become the Stratford Festival’s new marquee space. Replacing the early 20th century building — initially constructed as a curling rink — that has served as the festival’s headquarters for 46 years, the new theatre is being partially funded via a $100 million campaign launched this year.

The new Tom Patterson Theatre. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini / Stratford Festival

The new Tom Patterson Theatre. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini / Stratford Festival

The campaign kicked off with a private gift of $10 million from Ophelia Lazaridis. The Festival has also been promised $20 million in funding from the federal government and $20 million from the Ontario government. In addition to the leadership gifts from Ophelia Lazaridis and from Dan Bernstein and Claire Foerster, a further $10 million in pledges has already been received – with details to be announced in coming weeks – so the campaign has already reached 70% of its goal.

Stratford Festival Artistic Antoni Cimolino expressed enthusiasm about what has so far been a very successful campaign. “We are so grateful to Ophelia for coming forward with such a remarkable gift for this important project. The Tom Patterson Theatre is one of our most treasured creative spaces, but one that is woefully inadequate for the calibre of performance and experience our patrons have come to expect. This campaign will allow us to turn it into a facility befitting the founder whose name it bears. Together with our artists, staff and most generous donors, we look forward to rekindling the infectious spirit that Tom Patterson inspired 65 years ago, a spirit that awakened a belief in Canadian creativity and changed the cultural landscape of this country.”

Theatre lobby. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini / Stratford Festival

Theatre lobby. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini / Stratford Festival

“The new auditorium will expand upon the magical qualities of the existing Tom Patterson Theatre,” says Mr. Cimolino. “It will be uniformly intimate. It will have vastly improved acoustics and a much greater sense of comfort for audience members. It will take the strengths of the current theatre and make them bespoke – tailored with the finest materials and craftsmanship.

“Our architect, Siamak Hariri, has designed an inspiring space, which we believe will be the best theatre room in North America, a space worthy of the exceptional work that has always been produced in this well-loved theatre. We hope it will be a shining example of legacy architecture, like the Sydney Opera House or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain – but on a smaller scale suitable to our beautiful riverside setting.”

Stage view. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini / Stratford Festival

Stage view. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini / Stratford Festival

The auditorium at the heart of the new centre will be clad in softly lime-washed masonry and surrounded by a veil of shimmering glass, hung with thin bronze mullions. A two-acre terraced garden, beautiful enough to be a landmark in itself, will stretch from one end of the site to the other.

The theatre will have a slightly larger capacity and longer season. Together with the expansion of Forum, education and digital offerings, it is estimated that the new centre will generate an additional $14 million per year in economic activity, on top of the $134 million already generated annually by the Festival as a whole.



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