August 10, 2020 Newsletter

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  • 84% plan to return to volunteering either immediately or as long as they are comfortable with health & safety precautions
  • 75% are comfortable with returning to an outdoor environment compared to 33% indoors
  • The top health and safety precautions considered essential to returning are masks, physical distancing, hand sanitizers/hand-washing and cleaning protocols
  • 99% are satisfied the Guild has kept them informed and engaged during the pandemic (we’re delighted with this response!)

Until we get back to volunteering, we continue to look for ways to support the Shaw and our Community.  Since our last Newsletter, three projects were launched, all focused on Community support.   








The Guild video Entertaining at Home was released to reinforce Stage 3 protocols. Our thanks to Jane and Tom Catcher for hosting the backyard BBQ, “guests” Doug Kiefer and Grazyna Bergman, Roy Ayers and Janet Tan, and to the “Guild Production Players” Rene Bertschi, Cheryl Morris, Brenda Weafer, and Patrick Wilson. 

As you know by now, the planned Summer Series was delayed.  No worries, though! The team has been busy behind the scenes and we are still planning to broadcast (via YouTube) some interesting and informative sessions for your enjoyment.

We have a number of projects in the works and will be announcing the titles and dates soon – so stay tuned!

Brenda Weafer, Activities Chair

How the Shaw Festival kept 500 people employed during COVID — by taking out pandemic insurance three years ago!

“People keep telling me it was genius,” Jennings says, reflecting on this extraordinary stroke of luck. “It wasn’t actually genius. It wasn’t about this pandemic at all — it was about communicable disease.”  Here’s the story behind Tim Jennings’ decision.

Message from Laurie Harley, President, Shaw Guild

Hello Guild Members

We have a lot of news to share with you this month.

Let’s start with what’s been happening around the reopening of the Shaw Festival and our return to volunteer roles. 

As you may know, all Shaw performances and public events through until September 15 have been cancelled.  However, we remain optimistic that a fall and holiday season is still possible under a reduced occupancy model featuring performances of Charley’s Aunt, Flush and A Christmas Carol.  Not only would a return to the stage be great for the Company and the Guild, it would also help our community get back on its feet.  We anxiously await future announcements from the Shaw.

With the announcement of Niagara moving to Stage 3, Shaw Staff began to return to the site on August 4.  But that return is far from “business as usual”. Many will continue to work at home and protocols now significantly limit the number of people in the building.  Masks or face shields are required to enter and move about, as well as physical distancing and enhanced cleaning.  Only the Stage Door entrance is open and everyone must sign in and out.  This is not the time for Guild members to plan a visit to the facility whether that’s indoor or outdoor. When the Shaw is ready for the safe return of volunteers, they will let us know.  Then you will be contacted and we'll provide the protocols required for your return.   

The Guild is also preparing and planning for our return to volunteering.

A huge “thank you” to the 195 members who completed the recent Member Survey and a special shout out to the 61 people who took additional time to tell us about their volunteer experiences, even newer members who have not yet had the opportunity to volunteer.   We are encouraged by both the data and your comments.  We learned most members are ready to return as long as appropriate health and safety measures are in place.  Here is a quick summary:

The following year, the Shaw Festival Theatre Foundation was established as a non-profit organization.

Mask Up!

The Town has asked all the local businesses to remind everyone to please remember to use properly worn face coverings, continue physical distancing and wash or sanitize your hands constantly throughout the day.

Face coverings are required in all indoor public locations throughout Niagara. COVID 19 cases in Niagara region and NOTL have seen increases since moving into Stage 3. While they are clear there is absolutely no cause for panic on this, they wish us to remind everyone of our shared duty to increase public safety and help reduce cases by playing our part in ensuring we are all following these required safety protocols.

Shaw Festival History: Did you know that in 1962 . . .

A singular act of passion for theatre by Brian Doherty of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Calvin G Rand of Buffalo, inspired the Shaw Festival into being. Its first season in 1962, held in the Assembly Room of the historic Court House.

This very first season of the Shaw Festival was an all-Shaw affair, consisting of just eight performances: four each of Don Juan in Hell (from Man and Superman) and Candida. The performances were spread over four weekends in June, July and August, all in the 475-seat un-air-conditioned Court House Theatre. Maynard Burgess directed both shows, and they were designed by Alice Crawley. [With sets built and painted in the parking lot behind the theatre].

Excerpt from Shaw Festival – The First Fifty Years by L.W. Conolly.

Your response to the “A Lot O NOTL” pilot was amazing with 50 boxes sold out by the end of the first week of ordering!  Boxes will be delivered to doorsteps on August 28 and feedback from customers is welcomed at

The final initiative to roll out this month is the “NOTL Ambassador” pilot.  The Town has reached out to the Guild to manage the project because of the well-established reputation Members have for greeting and welcoming Shaw patrons.   We’re delighted the Town chose the Guild and we see benefits for us as well.  Greeting in COVID times with new protocols will be a reality when the theatre reopens and feedback from participants in the pilot will help us better prepare for getting back to volunteering at the Shaw.  


As always, I welcome your feedback and suggestions.  Just drop me a note at

Until next time, stay safe and keep well.

Summer Series Update

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