"The Shaw is an incredibly creative company, full of dedicated and talented people who give their all on a continual basis," said Blake in a statement. "It has been an enormous privilege to share the leadership of this remarkable organization with [artistic director] Jackie Maxwell since 2002 and with Christopher Newton before that."
While the search for a new executive director begins immediately, Blake will continue in her current role until her successor is appointed.
"Her ability to promote, question, encourage, yet reconfigure when necessary, is unmatched," said Maxwell in a statement. "The Shaw Festival has benefited from her great leadership for 17 years."
Blake is the recipient of the 1972 Jean A. Chalmers Apprentice Award (awarded annually by the Stratford Festival to young professionals) and the 1983 Pauline M. McGibbon Award (awarded by the Ontario government for excellence in the early stages of a theatre professional's career). In June 2004, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the University of Windsor.
Blake's extensive career in the theatre includes an 18-year association with the Stratford Festival in positions including stage manager, production manager, director of production and producer. She also worked as production manager of Young People's Theatre and general manager of the Bastion Theatre Company in Victoria, BC. In the spirit of Bernard Shaw, the Shaw Festival "provokes the mind and stirs the soul" in four venues in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
For more information about the Shaw Festival, visit www.shawfest.com.