Sandra Whitworth, on the board of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage, was definitely calling it “wonderful news” when she spoke to the Leader on Monday, May 13.
The St. Lawrence Stage, which is building a reputation as one of the finest venues for both established and up and coming musicians in Eastern Ontario, has just received word that it has been granted charitable status by the federal government.
“We applied for charitable status for the Stage, but the applications are very extensive,” Whitworth explained. “There are a lot of criteria to meet, and the format is particularly challenging. Still, we worked hard on the application, and we were thrilled to hear that we had secured the status.”
Gaining charitable status means that the St. Lawrence Stage will now be able to issue tax receipts to those individuals and companies that support it. The new status also makes the Stage eligible for arts foundations which only support charitable institutions.
In April, MP Guy Lauzon announced that the Heritage Grant from the Canada Arts Presentation Fund was guaranteeing the Stage $10,000 in each of the next two years.
“This is $2,000 more than we received in 2012-13, and now we have a guarantee of support until 2015,” Whitworth said.
“We know we now have a level of funding that lets us plan and promote a new season, and hopefully draw in new audiences. The Heritage grant allows us the resources, even if audience numbers declined a little, to get our next season together. We no longer have to sit and wait to see how things go. The support of the federal government for the arts also allows us to keep our ticket prices affordable.”
The St. Lawrence Stage also received a $1,000 grant from the South Dundas Council for next year.
Talents as diverse as Serena Ryder and New Country Rehab have performed at the St. Lawrence Stage. The Stage also gives support and professional performance opportunities to up and coming musicians in their emerging artists showcases. Whitworth reports that audiences have been coming from Ottawa and Kingston as well as locally, and they have been building.
The Stage had a strong spring concert series this year. “We feel that word of mouth, and the support of business sponsors have really spread the news about the great shows we have at the St. Lawrence Stage, right here in Morrisburg,” Whitworth explained.
“Every year we hope to try for one “name” show to draw in audiences and to introduce people to the stage. We don’t compromise on our artistic vision, but we want to give people a chance to see and hear a well known artist as part of our series.”
Whitworth laughed that a patron wrote and said that she felt the Stage “had turned a corner this spring.”
“I wrote her back that I hoped so, but the arts are always a bit of a roller coaster. We just hope for a roller coaster with gently rolling hills.”
The final concert of the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage season will take place on May 25, featuring six outstanding new talents.
“We’re already booking next season,” Whitworth said, “and we plan a stellar line-up.”