History & Mandate


Brief History

The Blyth Centre for the Arts, including the Blyth Festival, was founded to produce professional repertory theatre that reflects the culture and concerns of the people of Southwestern Ontario and beyond.

At the close of the 2018 season, the Blyth Festival has premiered 134 new Canadian plays (an achievement very few arts organizations in Canada can parallel). All of these are plays written by Canadians, directed by Canadians, designed by Canadians, and performed by Canadians. All of them are fully realized professional productions about life in rural Canada. To date, more than one million people, from every township and concession road in Huron County, every province and territory in Canada, all over United States, and all around the globe have attended the Blyth Festival.

The Blyth Festival was founded in 1975, a time when very few scripts that fit the Festival’s mandate were being written, so we threw our shoulder into the creation of new work. At that time, the Festival was the only summer theatre producing original Canadian plays, and one of the very few theatres in Canada producing Canadian plays exclusively.

The success of the Blyth Festival has led to the founding of many summer theatres in town halls across Ontario, and some have even since adopted policy for also producing Canadian plays. Dozens of plays born on Blyth’s stage have gone on to be produced the world over. Plays from the Blyth Festival have won Governor General’s awards, been produced in 29 countries worldwide, and translated into dozens of languages (including American Sign Language).

“Of all the regional theatres across Canada, no theatre has been as truthful and as faithful to its core audience as Blyth. It’s amazing to peruse its production history since its inception in 1975 and see all the plays it has presented that examine and celebrate rural issues generally and farming issues specifically.

It’s a glorious tradition that is sure to continue. And, by the way, you don’t have to live in rural Canada to appreciate the contribution the Festival has made to helping us all understand the breadbasket that feeds the nation.”
Robert Reid, Reid between the lines, 2017

Mission

The Blyth Festival is a community-based professional theatre that endeavours to enrich the lives of its audience by producing and developing plays that give voice to both the region and the country.

Mandate

to provide interest in and the study of the arts generally, and literature, drama, and music in particular;

to advance knowledge of, and appreciation of, and to stimulate interest in the dramatic culture and tradition by theatrical performances and otherwise;

to provide facilities for education and instruction in the arts of theatre;

to provide improved opportunities for Canadian artistic talent;

to advance the development of the arts of theatre in Canada;

to conduct an annual festival of such in the Village of Blyth;

to collect monies by way of donations and otherwise.