Antoni Cimolino has been the artistic director of the Stratford Festival, since 2013 – a role that has been extended to the festival’s 70th season in 2022.
From a $3.4 million deficit in 2012, Mr. Cimolino’s tenure to July of 2015 had seen an increase in attendance of 9 percent, and two years of operating surpluses totalling $2.5 million. The festival’s endowment has also grown – from $56 million to $71 million.
A statement from the Board called Cimolino’s achievements “monumental.”
Each season is built around a theme — 2015 was “eureka moments,” 2016 is “after the victory” — and Antoni created the Forum to expand on those themes: some 200 debates, readings, musical showcases, comedy evenings and other events that have featured guests like Roméo Dallaire, Camille Paglia, Margaret Trudeau, Robert Lepage, Sally Armstrong and Margaret Atwood.
Cimolino also created the Laboratory, described as “an incubator for new work and a place where artists can experiment with techniques from around the world and explore new approaches to working with the classics.”
By the end of the 2016 season, six productions developed through the Laboratory had been produced at the festival. Another 16 are under commission, and Cimolino hopes to attract private and public funding to expand the Laboratory’s “appetite for risk” and create works that reflect Canada’s “cultural diversity.”
Cimolino also aspires to film the entire Shakespeare canon over the next 10 years, with the festival’s productions of King Lear, King John and Antony and Cleopatra already committed to film.
“I want to build an even more artistically vibrant festival that is a stronger resource for the public and for our artists,” Cimolino said in the news release. “Stratford must be a place where we can learn and grow as artists. At the same time, we must continue to enrich the relationship between Stratford and artistic communities across Canada and internationally, so that our work can be shared and experienced further afield.”
Cimolino has been an actor, director and administrator at the festival. He joined the company as a performer in 1988, directed his first solo show in 1997, and was general manager and general director before he was named artistic director in 2012.