Donors take centre stage

Arts, Culture & Heritage

Photo: Laura and Cassandra Frederick, with Pat and Bob Migliore.
How donors have made Royal MTC a poster child for the power of agency funds.

Volunteering at Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre is a family affair for Bob and Pat Migliore. The couple has been involved with Royal MTC since the 1970s, and now their daughter Laura Frederick and granddaughters Cassandra and Samantha Frederick are as well.

They’ve built a community at Royal MTC, and their Legacy Gift to Royal MTC’s Founders’ Circle, which is endowed through The Winnipeg Foundation, is helping ensure their beloved theatre community will be around for years to come.


Opening Saturday of each run is the Migliores’ night at mainstage. As Head Usher, Mrs. Migliore has built a pool of volunteers vying to usher that night – she has even developed a points system to ensure everyone gets a fair shot at the coveted shifts. Having a committed crew of volunteers is important, she says.

“They show the public how they feel, how they perceive the theatre and how important it is,” she says. “I feel very, very committed to the theatre. And I think it’s something that the theatre really needs, they’re always saying how much they need it. And we enjoy doing it so much.”

The couple moved from New York to Winnipeg in 1970. Mr. Migliore was first introduced to Royal MTC through work shortly after the move, and he started volunteering soon after. Mrs. Migliore started volunteering for Royal MTC in 1978 as a part of her sorority Beta Sigma Phi and, as she likes to joke, she never left.

“We’ve stayed committed to the theatre and watched it grow and grown with it. And I’ll probably do this until I can’t do it anymore,” she says.

The couple volunteers with many different organizations. According to their daughter Laura Frederick, giving back to the community is something her parents have always done.

“Back as far as I can remember they’ve always been volunteering in something,” she says. Today, the couple is so busy volunteering they have to schedule time together, she says with a laugh.

Laura Frederick was about 15 when she started working and volunteering at Royal MTC. And her daughters Cassandra and Samantha were around the same age when they first got involved – it’s one of the best ways to spend time with their grandparents, they joke.

As far as Mr. and Mrs. Migliore know, theirs is the only volunteer night that features three generations ushering together – something Mr. Migliore is proud of.

“People may force their kids to do something. But here we invited them, they took us up and now they couldn’t be more passionate.”

Cassandra Frederick loves that going to the theatre is a special night out for her and her family.

“If you go to the movies you’re just going for that one movie, and once it’s over, that’s it. Here, during the breaks and even on your way here, you see everyone dressed up for the theatre and it’s fun. After, we go out. It’s not just while the show is on – the night is more of an event,” she says.

The Migliores have developed friendships and community because of their involvement with Royal MTC. Patrons look for Mr. and Mrs. Migliore during their ushering shifts, and some even bring them cookies. Through volunteering with Royal MTC and local theatre company Shakespeare in the Ruins, they have become friends with many in the theatre scene and think of some actors as their ‘unofficial family.’

“Every time we look to see who’s in the cast. In the performance [of A Christmas Carol] there were at least three people who we consider to be our ‘kids,’” Mr. Migliore says.

“I looked at the review in Saturday’s paper, it was like, ‘We’re having a reunion! There’s Rob (Paterson), there’s Arne (MacPherson), there’s Kevin (Klassen),’” Mrs. Migliore adds.

They also feel appreciated for their time and effort.

“I’m very proud every time that Steven [Schipper, Artistic Director of Royal MTC] will see us and say, ‘Hello Bob, hello Pat’ and shake our hands. He recognizes us. That’s really nice. It’s a good feeling,” Mr. Migliore says.

“Pat and Bob Migliore exemplify the many qualities of Royal MTC volunteer – helpful, humble, and hard-working,” Mr. Schipper says. “Like Pat and Bob, our volunteers transform a visit to Royal MTC into a reunion with family and friends.”

That sense of community contributed to the couple’s decision to join Royal MTC’s Founders’ Circle.

“They’ve made us feel [we’re part of the community]. I want future generations to feel that too,” Mrs. Migliore says.


Royal MTC launched its Founders’ Circle campaign in 2017 in celebration of its 60th anniversary. The Founders’ Circle invites people to include a gift to Royal MTC in their estate plans. Founders’ Circle gifts are endowed in Royal MTC’s Agency Fund, which is managed by The Winnipeg Foundation. The goal is to grow to 60 members for the anniversary, and eventually more.

“Our Founders’ Circle ensures that the future of Royal MTC is secure for generations to come. Membership, no matter how small the gift, is like planting a tree knowing full well its shade will only benefit others,” says Kris Olafson, Royal MTC’s Individual Giving Officer.

“It’s an extraordinary act of generosity and selflessness that benefits both the donor and Royal MTC,” says Mr. Schipper.

Although the couple had already included three gifts to the Royal MTC in their estate plans – to the Mainstage, Warehouse, and Fringe Festival – when the Founders’ Circle was announced, Mrs. Migliore immediately knew it was a place for her.

“I want to be part of that,” she says with a big smile.

Knowing their gift is endowed and will support Royal MTC in perpetuity is comforting to the couple – but they also hope more people will get involved.

“It’s a really, really good, happy feeling. And you really want to believe it is going to happen, and you’re scared that it may not. Is everybody giving enough? Will the theatre keep on going? To have this kind of theatre in this town is great,” Mr. Migliore says.


Royal MTC’s Agency Endowment Fund is an incredible success story, one that’s only possible thanks to generous donors like Bob and Pat Migliore.

Established in 2001, the fund has quickly grown to provide a permanent source of support on which the theatre can rely. As of fiscal 2017, the fund was valued at $18.88 million. In 2018 it will generate more than $854,000 in revenue back to Royal MTC.

“Legacy gifts contribute to the overall financial viability of the theatre. The amazing growth we have experienced in our Agency Fund has come from connecting directly with our donors and discussing the benefits of gifts to the endowment fund. All gifts are welcome and contribute to build a lasting legacy,” says Ms. Olafson.

Charities can have one main Agency Fund at The Winnipeg Foundation, and many have sub-funds for various reasons. Prior to the 2014–2017 Strategic Plan, The Foundation managed a total of 262 funds on behalf of 158 agencies. By the end of 2017, The Foundation managed 344 on behalf of 198 agencies.

Many charities establish Agency Funds at The Foundation because they can count on the income each year, and have discretion over the spending.

“Contributions we receive through our endowment fund allow the theatre to make long-range plans and gives us the flexibility to take creative risks and maintain performance levels of the highest standards which are so important to allow the theatre to grow and flourish,” Ms. Olafson says

The Foundation’s Spending Policy ensures distributions will not drop or vary drastically from year to year.

“For almost 100 years, gifts entrusted to The Winnipeg Foundation have been handled with responsibility, under strict policy guidelines and with a deep commitment towards the community of Winnipeg. We know and trust that under The Foundation’s Spending Policy our donors’ investments will grow and provide substantial income for Royal MTC well into the future,” Ms. Olafson says.

A flourishing theatre company is important to the Migliores.

“I imagine the theatre might say we’ve given a lot to them, but they have given so much to us,” says Pat Migliore. “I felt that [joining the Founders’ Circle] is a way to give back to them and know it will continue. Once we’re gone, I’m expecting my [volunteer usher] group to continue. And everybody that we possibly can get involved in volunteering, I want them to know why we were involved. I felt this was a good way to do it.”


  • Agency Funds are endowments established by registered charities.
  • Charities can rely on the annual distributions, and have discretion over how to spend that money.
  • The Winnipeg Foundation manages Agency Funds on behalf of 198 charitable organizations, including Royal MTC.
  • We saw steady growth in this area between 2014 and 2017.


  • Date Established: July 2001
  • Average number of gifts per year: 154
  • Value at the end of fiscal 2017: $18,882,873
  • Total distributed in fiscal 2017: $786,290
  • Projected distribution in fiscal 2018: $854,600


The Winnipeg Foundation’s Legacy Circle honours people who have chosen to include a gift to The Foundation in their estate plans. Legacy Circle members are invited to an annual reception, receive special publications, and more. All donors to the Royal MTC’s Founders’ Circle can become members of The Foundation’s Legacy Circle.

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