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Did you get an end-of-year bonus this year? Everyone at the Shaw Festival did

Marla McLean as Lady Windermere in Lady Windermere’s Fan.

David Cooper

How well did the Shaw Festival do in its 2013 season, financially speaking? So well that the not-for-profit theatre paid out bonuses to 461 artists and employees.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., repertory theatre announced a $1.2-million surplus at its annual general meeting on Friday evening. It had already revealed a record box-office haul of $16-million in November, along with healthy attendance of 270,570 for its 10-show season.

That's quite a shift in the storyline for an arts organization that just two years ago replaced long-time executive director Colleen Blake with noted turnaround artist Elaine Calder after running two successive deficits over $1-million.

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Calder has done her work, reining in costs, while artistic director Jackie Maxwell has made programming choices that proved to be lucrative.

Revenues from all sources at the festival were $29-million last season, up 8 per cent from the year before. Popular productions of Guys and Dolls, always a sure bet with audiences, and Lady Windermere's Fan, which hit many Canadian theatre end-of-year lists, helped increase ticket sales by $2-million from 2012.

Overall, Maxwell has had a very happy January. Her production of the "verbatim musical" London Road is currently earning her some of the best reviews of her career at Canadian Stage in Toronto.

Follow me on Twitter: @nestruck

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Theatre critic

J. Kelly Nestruck is The Globe's theatre critic. More


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