STRATFORD, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 16, 2011) - The Stratford Shakespeare Festival will continue to provide high-calibre training to arts students, thanks to support from the Government of Canada. Funding was announced today by the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and Regional Minister for Southwestern Ontario, on behalf of the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.

Funding will allow the Birmingham Conservatory for Classical Theatre Training to continue to provide theatre artists with training and development in the methods and skills required for the interpretation of classical texts. It will also help train emerging directors through the Michael Langham Workshop for Classical Direction. Training, which includes specialized classes and rehearsals, takes place in the Stratford Shakespeare Festival's facilities and prepares young actors and directors for professional careers in classical theatre.

"Increased investment in arts training is an important part of our Government's plan for culture," said Minister Moore. "It demonstrates that we invest in excellence and that we support the successful future of our artists."

"The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is renowned for maintaining and promoting the highest level of artistic excellence," said Minister Finley. "We are proud to support an organization that provides the conditions and training that help the finest talent achieve their full potential."

"This solid base of funding will enable the Festival to continue this extraordinary program, which has already developed actors of outstanding calibre in performing the classics," said Antoni Cimolino, General Director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. "Martha Henry, the director of the Birmingham Conservatory, tells me that the current class is among the finest that has taken part in the program. Now this support from the Canada Arts Training Fund will help make dreams come true for more talented young Canadians, beginning with those selected by Martha during a national audition tour in the weeks ahead."

"In order for classical drama to flourish not just as literature but as living, breathing theatre, each generation of artists must pass on to the next their hard-won insights and practical skills," said Des McAnuff, Artistic Director of the Birmingham Conservatory. "This most welcome investment will help our most talented young actors develop and hone the craft that will enable them to take their places as the leading players of the future."

The Government of Canada has provided total funding of $900,000 over the next three years ($300,000 in 2011–2012, $300,000 in 2012–2013, and $300,000 in 2013–2014) through the Canada Arts Training Fund. The Fund supports non-profit organizations that offer training to Canadians aspiring to a national or international professional career in the arts. Through Canada's Economic Action Plan, the total budget of the Canada Arts Training Fund rose in 2009 from $17.1 million to $24.1 million per year, an increase of 41 percent. This increased funding is provided on an ongoing basis.

This news release is available on the Internet at under Newsroom.

Contact Information: Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
and Official Languages
Codie Taylor - Press Secretary
Canadian Heritage
Media Relations