Year-end Giving to Shakespeare

2009 December 31
by Chris

This summer of 40 plays in 40 days reminded me again of the wonderful people out there in the States who produce quality Shakespearean performances in a wide-variety of venues. Many of the performances had some type of announcement (or plea) regarding donations and how difficult it was to keep providing these quality performances in an economy that was demanding us to consider our most basic needs of shelter and food and work.

I am fortunate though: I have been teaching in the same school district for 15 years, have a steady income and have a wonderful wife who also had steady work and income throughout this year.

So, why shouldn’t we give back to the arts?

One of my rules during this summer was to always give a donation at any performance that asked for one. I did this not so much out of guilt, but out of obligation: I should “earn my keep” and after a performance the least I could do was drop some money in the basket before I was off to another venue.

Now, as the end of 2009 draws quickly to an end and as we consider those last moment donations, it seems only reasonable to give back to those same companies and troupes that gave me another play to experience in my journey this summer. Some folks give to their places of worship in a variety of venues: churches, museums, causes, politics, etc. And this year has had us give to all of those places and as I consider the end of this year, I gave today to three of the venues from the summer.

Why? Because I could and I should.

From those who were the opening act of the summer (Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival with Cymbeline) to the only venue in the state which I live (Greenwood Shakespeare Festival with Love’s Labours Lost) to the beginning stage of a Mid-America swing (Nebraska Shakespeare Festival in Omaha with a cool production of Macbeth): to those I gave today. It wasn’t an extraordinary amount of cash, but just a little ongoing investment we can make in the arts and for my cause: companies who share Shakespeare with their communities.

It really is about that silly cliche: It is better to give than to receive. For me, this summer, I received so much from all of the companies I visited and those who even helped in the readings. To give feels good and that’s not a bad way to close out 2009.

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