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Stratford Festival receives $10-million pledge from Dan Bernstein & Claire Foerster for new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre project


Stratford, ON… The Stratford Festival is thrilled to announce that Board Chair Dan Bernstein and his wife, Claire Foerster, are supporting a new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre with an extraordinary pledge of $10 million.

The couple, who live in Connecticut, see the Festival – the continent’s largest not-for-profit theatre – as vital to the theatrical landscape of North America.

“Claire and I take great joy in making this contribution to a theatre that has meant so much to us and our family over the years,” says Mr. Bernstein, who is Senior Strategist and Director of Bridgewater Associates in Westport, Connecticut. “The Stratford Festival is a remarkable theatre company with vast capabilities and accomplishments not only in performance and production, but also in theatre education, new play development and cultural digital content. A new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre will enable the Festival to significantly expand on these strengths.  I feel extremely fortunate to chair this board as the Festival embarks on such an important and exciting renewal project.”

“Dan and Claire’s remarkable gift is an incredible endorsement of the vision we have for the future of the Stratford Festival through the development of a new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Dan’s expertise and friendship have meant so much to us and his leadership as Board Chair and head of the selection committee for the project’s architect has been invaluable.”

The Tom Patterson Theatre has been a treasured space for 46 years, but has sadly reached the end of its viable life. A design for a new facility by acclaimed Canadian architect Siamak Hariri envisions a theatre of warm stone wrapped in a glass curtain that both reflects and reveals the picturesque Avon River, which the theatre overlooks. His design captures all of the intimacy of the current theatre, while enlarging production capabilities and creating new spaces for theatre education, new play development, and the Stratford Festival Forum, which offers more than 150 events each season to more closely examine the themes of the plays as reflected in society today. Mr. Hariri’s design also greatly improves comfort and accessibility, aspects sorely lacking at present.

The Ontario government has promised $20 million in funding for the project and the Federal government is considering a request for a similar amount. The Festival’s proposal for the new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre is before Council and awaits approval by the City. Once approval is granted, the Festival will launch a $100-million campaign to provide the capital for the new theatre and to establish a fund for future operations.

Antoni Cimolino and Siamak Hariri reflect on the project

Actors reflect on the TPT and the value of this gift