June 2024 Newsletter

Message from the president

The annual Shaw Guild Garden Tour took place on Saturday, June 15 and with great success! 890 tickets were sold, and it was a beautiful day to take in the 8 private gardens.
to Patricia Scrivener and her planning team, as well as the many volunteers who helped out on the day. You delivered a terrific event that many guests attend each year.

 Our second opening weekend at the Shaw this season was very successful! Audiences were ‘wowed’ by The House That Will Not Stand, The Orphan of Chao, Kabarett, One Man, Two Guvnors, and The Secret Garden. Thank you to all the Guild Volunteers who played a part in the weekend.

The Guild Secret Garden Art Project in the Royal George Gallery building was officially unveiled opening weekend. Several volunteers, working under the direction of Shaw designer Judith Bowden, have been creating an art installation for that space using plant material from each season in the garden. Guests at the opening were very impressed with the beauty and creativity of the art. Satellite installations are also displayed in the Royal George lobby, the Pumphouse and the NOTL Library. Thanks to Susan MacDonald for her hard work and energy in coordinating this project, as well as the volunteers who helped to create this art.

Recently the Guild Executive Committee participated in a branding exercise, led by former Marketing Convenor Jo Ann Ely. The discussion around branding was an opportunity for us to confirm who we are as an organization, and how we want to be viewed by our volunteers, the Shaw and the community. Simply put, our Shaw Guild brand is a representation of:

  • What we are

  • What we do

  • Why it matters

The team agreed unanimously that we are a volunteer organization, who support the Shaw Festival by donating both our time and our talents. We strive for excellence in everything that we do as that’s our way of contributing to the quality of patron experiences. Whether we are hosting a fundraising event, providing background to our volunteers about the season’s plays, running diversity workshops, working collaboratively with Shaw staff – it’s all with an objective to deliver excellence.

Our Shaw Guild website has been updated and you can view our Guiding Principles on the Home page of this website.

If you would like to get in touch, you can email me at president@shawguild.ca.

Spotlight on: Marzanna Bednarek-Zilinskas

Host, Garden Tour volunteer, Sip Savour & Stroll and Autumn Soirée organizer. In the few years since Marzanna joined the Guild in 2021, she has been involved in many and varied projects.

Upon retirement, Marzanna and her husband Victor moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2020 after living in Ottawa for 34 years. The beauty and climate of this area appealed to them — as well as a chance to be closer to family.

In addition to her volunteer duties for the Shaw, Marzanna is an active member of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Horticultural Society and the Garden Club of Niagara. Flowers, gardening and travel are her lifetime passions; but not her sole interests. She joined a book club last year and also took a beginner quilting course so she could design and make abstract quilts.

Let’s find out a bit more about her with the help of an abbreviated Proust questionnaire, designed to uncover key aspects of a person’s character:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Champagne with my family in beautiful surroundings would make me perfectly happy.

What is your greatest extravagance?  A Canadian-mined diamond.

What is your most treasured possession?  I am fortunate to have a fantastic husband, two happily married children and two delightful grandchildren.

Marzanna is truly a vibrant presence around the Shaw.

Spotlight on: Joe Cassidy

Joe is one our dedicated gardeners. His green thumb comes naturally since his is originally from Northern Ireland. When not digging and planting, Joe also volunteers as a greeter.

Joe was born in Derry and schooled at St. Columbs College. After a professional soccer career in Ireland with local soccer teams, including a tryout with Manchester United, Joe moved to Canada in1970 with his wife, Nora, and three daughters. While in Toronto, Joe was employed in sales for a high security door company. Could the company’s moto have been, when one door closes, another opens?

Joe’s affection for Niagara-on-the-Lake eventually led him to move here in 2016 and Joe became a Guild volunteer in 2017. When not volunteering at the Shaw, Joe enjoys playing golf and fiddling with his guitar. A single malt Scotch makes the music sound better.

Say hello to Joe when you see him around!

Do You Recognize any of these Tea Pots/Cups

The Education Department is getting in touch with folks who have graciously allowed us to borrow their tea pots, and cups and saucers. A few items have come in with no name attached to them.  

Could the respective owner(s) reach out to Jess Gorman at jgorman@shawfest.ca to identify their item(s), and if they are a donation or a borrow?  Jess will make the proper arrangements with Volunteers directly.

(Top row 1, 2, 3, Bottom row 4, 5, 6)


News from Backstage

by Arlene Carson

The Docent team is back in full swing, and we are experiencing our busiest season since pre-Covid days. In June, we had 31 scheduled tours compared to 19 tours in June 2023. Elementary schools were taking in our wonderful production of The Secret Garden, while secondary students attended My Fair Lady.

We are enjoying the energy of the student tours and their newly discovered enthusiasm for live theatre. Public tours are offered Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at 11 a.m. and on Sundays at 10 a.m. We are experiencing a great turn out for theses tours and remember that they are complimentary for all Guild members! You can book a free ticket for yourself and a friend through the Box Office.

This month also ushers in Continue the Conversation. The previous group of 12 volunteers is now a team of 24 who will cover these exhilarating post-performance chats right up to the last performance of My Fair Lady on December 21. The team is covering 18 shifts this month, but that number doubles in July as more productions finish their previews. The Continue the Conversation, or CTC, happens after every matinee, on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturday, except for The Secret Garden, and after every lunch time performance of The Orphan of Chao.

Around Town with the Guild Garden Art Project

By Susan MacDonald

Just prior to the opening of The Secret Garden, volunteers gathered for a photo shoot to celebrate their hard work and the completion of the winter, spring and summer seasons of pressed flowers on display in the Gallery, the Royal George lobby, the Pumphouse and the Niagara-on-the-Lake Library. A small display is still planned for the Festival lobby.

Local media have taken notice. Check out the links below.

Work will restart again in September to complete the Gallery installation with a fall section.

18th Annual Shaw Guild Garden Tour was a Huge Success!

by Patricia Scrivener

What can I say except WOW!!! It was my great pleasure and honour to be the Convenor of our 18th Annual Shaw Guild Garden Tour on June 15. The day was a huge success from start to finish. Our weather was perfect, volunteers amazing, gardens set up beautifully and homeowners incredible. Guests started lining up at 9:30am and did not stop all day. The Garden Tour organizing team members were fantastic, and offered support for anything required throughout the day. Thanks to you we were totally on our game! I am immensely grateful for your support!

This grand effort contributed to a total of 890 tickets sold, representing $19,500 in net revenue raised to support the Shaw Festival Theatre. Of this number, less than 200 guests were from the Niagara Region. The majority of attendees came from outside the region, bringing many to NOTL for the Garden Tour, who then also visited the local restaurants, hotels and Shaw Theatre. Survey results showed an overall satisfaction rating from attendees of 4.7/5 or 95.7%. More than 99% said they will recommend our event to their friends and family.

Most rewarding of all, were the many comments received in praise of the beautiful gardens generously donated by the homeowners and our amazing volunteers. We could not have accomplished this success without the commitment and passion of more than 100 wonderful Shaw Guild volunteers and homeowners. We thank you for your support.

Thanks to Doug Bullock for taking numerous photos of the Garden Tour throughout the day and creating a slideshow. It was shown at the Appreciation Event to remind everyone of a fabulous day. You may access a link to the slideshow at https://youtu.be/yjVnxLGDglY

Our appreciation also goes out to Rene Bertschi for creating a video of the day. You can view this on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/V-ojK-ZmwfE

The Garden Tour Volunteer Appreciation Event was held at the Shaw Festival Theatre on June 24, with 111 in attendance. Everyone enjoyed celebrating the Garden Tour’s success and it was an opportunity to personally show our appreciation to the sponsors, homeowners, Shaw Guild Volunteers, Master Gardeners, artists and musicians who contributed to the Garden Tour’s outstanding results. None of this would be possible without the support of so many in our NOTL and Shaw Guild communities.

A big thank you goes out to Brenda Weafer and her team for coordinating such a lovely Volunteer Appreciation event, and to Petrice Custance of the Shaw Festival for her assistance. We must also acknowledge Palatine Roses for supplying the beautiful flowers for décor. Everyone had a wonderful time! Sharon Frayne French invited the plein air artists to attend the Volunteer Appreciation event and display the beautiful artwork created in their assigned garden. This was very well received and appreciated. There was some lively music by Gail Hawkins and the Wild Oats Trio, as well as Will Wilson, creating a fun ambience that everyone enjoyed. These people did so freely of their own time, and it too was greatly appreciated.

Perhaps you will volunteer for the Garden Tour next year and join in the fun!

Have a wonderful and safe summer!

Garden Tour Patron Liz Sauter with Master Gardener Yvonne Causer

Support the Sponsors of the Shaw Guild

by Cheryl Morris

Each year, the Fundraising and Sponsorship team seeks out local sponsors to provide cash donations to support our mission to raise funds for Shaw Festival productions and programs. This has been very successful in many ways: bringing in cash (always nice) and building relationships in the NOTL community (very important).

Many of these relationships have lasted years, and we are very grateful. We also reach out to new businesses in town, to let them know how supporting the Guild is actually supporting the Festival. The Guild is careful not to solicit the same businesses as the Shaw does, and we coordinate with them before we begin our sponsorship campaign. 

Some background about the way we position sponsors:  In the past we had sponsors for the Garden Tour, and a different set of sponsors for Sip, Savour & Stroll. You can imagine that this caused confusion for sponsors, and for us!  We decided to change that model so that sponsorship supports the Guild as a whole for the entire year, which has worked very well for everyone involved.

All this is interesting, but why am I telling you, since you haven’t asked? Because we would like YOU to help support our sponsors by using their services, telling your friends about them, and maybe even suggesting new potential sponsors to the Fundraising Chair.

If you have any comments or questions, contact Cheryl Morris at info@shawguild.ca.

Check out the sponsors page by clicking the red button below. Once there, you can click on any of the logos to take you to the respective sponsor's website.

Shaw Guild Autumn Soirée: Friday, October 4

Announcing a NEW Shaw Guild Fundraising event!

Shaw Guild Gardeners are a Merry Bunch

18 Volunteer Gardeners came out on July 2 to make the beautiful Shaw gardens even more spectacular!

Here are two photos of 11 of them (click on the arrow to see another photo).

Back row – Barbara Webber, Peggy Bell, Mike Fox, Arthur Moss, Wayne Magee, Brian Parr, Vivien Elverson

Front row – Sylvie van Wissen, Debbie Steley, Paddy Parr, Luanne Lynch

May 27 Coffee Connections

by Brenda Weafer

Despite the steady downpour of rain, approximately 30 people braved the elements to get together for the first Coffee Connections of the year.  And they are smiling!  A wonderful time was had by all.  Thanks to those hardy souls who came out - consider joining us at our next one in July.

2024 Ontario Volunteer Service Awards

On May 30th, five Shaw Guild Volunteers were awarded a 2024 Ontario Volunteer Service Award.  MPP for Niagara-on-the-Lake Wayne Gates, and MPP for St. Catharines Jenny Stevens presented the recipients with a lapel pin and certificate to recognize their commitment and dedication as a volunteer.  Attending the ceremony to receive their award were Alan Walker, Susan MacDonald and Margot Devlin.  Caroline Kindness and Jane Calver are also recipients of the award but were not able to attend the ceremony.

Congratulations Alan, Margot, Susan, Caroline and Jane!