The Business of Running an Art

Drayton Entertainment’s
Hamilton Family Theatre

Since opening the Hamilton Family Theatre in Cambridge, Drayton Entertainment has delivered on its promise to enable community, commerce and creativity to converge, resulting in new synergies between the traditional and innovative.

Since opening the Hamilton Family Theatre in Cambridge, Drayton Entertainment has delivered on its promise to enable community, commerce and creativity to converge, resulting in new synergies between the traditional and innovative.

The Hamilton Family Theatre attracts an annual audience exceeding 100,000 through 27 weeks of live theatre programming along with a myriad of community events and facility rentals, including charitable fundraisers, dance competitions, symphony concerts, film festivals, school presentations and more.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to serve as a beacon – an introduction to the city which serves as a focal point and meeting place for residents, while also attracting visitors from both near and far,” says Artistic Director Alex Mustakas.

In this win-win proposition, the community benefits from the increased tourism and economic activity, along with access to a multi-purpose facility that can accommodate the specific needs of a variety of artistic disciplines

Our goal from the beginning has been to serve as a beacon, an introduction to the city which serves as a focal point and meeting place for residents, while also attracting visitors from both near and far.

In addition to housing a 500 seat venue, the complex contains consolidated administration, production and wardrobe facilities to service all seven of Drayton Entertainment’s theatres throughout the province (these venues include the Drayton Festival Theatre, Huron Country Playhouse and Playhouse II in Grand Bend, King’s Wharf Theatre in Penetanguishene, and the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse and St. Jacobs Schoolhouse Theatre here in Waterloo Region).   

This major cultural hub embodies the principles of creative community building. As part of broader urban strategies around the world, cities are engaging culture and creativity as engines of economic and social transformation. The motivations driving these efforts include cultural and tourism development, innovation agendas around commercialization of knowledge, talent attraction strategies, and broader citizen engagement.

The theatre speaks to the very heart of a city in transition – one that is intent on refashioning itself as a more well-rounded, dynamic, and diverse community. Recent projects in Cambridge, including the School of Architecture, Conestoga College, The Mill Restaurant, Main Street Streetscaping, Waterscape Condos, and City Hall are testament to a city dedicated to developing dynamic environments that attract, inspire, and sustain creative people.

A recent Ontario Arts Council survey reports that 93% of Ontarians say that arts activities help enrich the quality of our lives, and 90% believe that an active local arts scene helps make a community a better place to live.

Mustakas’ peerless vision has resulted in one of the most respected, charitable arts organizations in Canada. Thirty productions are staged annually across all seven venues, triggering $40 million in economic spin-off to the broader community.  With hundreds of artist contracts awarded annually, Drayton Entertainment is one of the largest employers of professional artists in the country.

Community support is such a key component to this strategy. In recognition of the sustained support of local philanthropists John and Terry Hamilton, the Theatre was officially named The Hamilton Family Theatre in 2018.

Perhaps even more impressive is that this remarkable feat has been achieved without annual operating funding from any level of government or arts council. Eighty percent of the annual $11 million budget is realized through ticket sales, and the remainder through fundraising and donations. As a result, Drayton Entertainment’s unique model of self-sufficiency is studied across Canada and around the world.

By carefully amortizing costs for set construction, costumes and other production related elements, shows are easily transferred between the organization’s seven different theatres, providing valuable savings which are then passed on directly to theatre-goers so that ticket prices remain affordable and accessible.

For tickets and more information visit www.draytonentertainment.com