Blyth Memorial Hall and Blyth Festival Theatre ( photo)Blyth Memorial Hall and Blyth Festival Theatre ( photo)

Blyth Festival to rename stage after historic donation

The Blyth Festival will name its indoor stage after a philanthropic family with ties to the region, after a historic donation to the theatre.

The space will be named Margaret Stephens Stage, following a half-a-million dollar gift from the Margaret and Andrew Stephens Family Foundation of Canmore, Alta.

Though the foundation is based in Alberta, Andrew and Margaret Stephens grew up and married in southwestern Ontario.

"This is a wonderful way to remember our mother, who passed away ten years ago this summer. She loved arts and music, and she and dad always taught us the value of teamwork and community," said Patricia Stephens. "That spirit is alive and well at the Blyth Festival, so it’s the perfect way to remember her."

The donation comes in addition to the $250,000 pledged by the foundation earlier this year. in a release, Blyth Festival said the combined $750,000 donation is the largest in its history.

"We have never named our stage, but are thrilled to honour Margaret Stephens in this way. Our Municipal officials and local Legion, Branch 420, are equally excited, and have given their blessing," said Blyth Artistic Director Gil Garratt. "The Stephens family’s extraordinary generosity has provided the Blyth Festival with exactly the kind of financial stability we need to continue our work. This gift will help enable us to expand our New Play Development program, bolster our staff, and fulfill our mission."

A ceremony to unveil a commemorative plaque in Memorial Hall’s Blyth Festival Art Gallery will be held on August 3 at 1 p.m.

The Stephens family is also sponsoring The Trials of Maggie Pollock, running from July 31 to August 29. The new work, commissioned by the Blyth Festival and written by award-winning Canadian playwright Beverley Cooper, chronicles the life of a Huron County farmwoman convicted of witchcraft in 1919.

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