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Utah Shakespeare Festival To Use Grants To Stage New Play, Bring Shakespeare To Schools

Karl Hugh
A Scene from Henry V, 2016, Courtesy of the Utah Shakespeare Festival

The Utah Shakespeare Festival has recently been awarded two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, totaling $45,000. The first will fund the production and world premiere of a new play, and the second will help bring Shakespeare to communities in Utah and surrounding states.

According to Josh Stavros, media and public relations manager at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, many arts organizations throughout Utah receive funding through the NEA, and the festival is grateful to count itself among them. He said this funding not only helps to support the arts, but is an honor to receive, and helps to show organizations that they’re doing something right.

The first is an Art Works grant of $20,000 to fund the premiere of Neil LaBute’s “How to Fight Loneliness.” The play was workshopped at the festival in 2016. Stavros said producing new work can be risky, so the support of the NEA is a powerful resource for bringing new plays to the stage.

“Theaters all over the country have learned producing new work is important and developing new playwrights is important to keep the art form alive and vibrant and meaningful, but that financially, that has to be balanced,” Stavros said. “So many granting organizations and people like the NEA are willing to sort of support the idea of new work development in theaters to keep it going.”

The second grant, through Arts Midwest, totals $25,000 and will bring Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” to schools, community centers and correctional facilities in Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona.

Stavros said experiencing art in your own community can make it more personally meaningful.

“Whatever play you’re talking about, whether it’s Romeo and Juliet, or Hamlet, or A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or The Tempest or whatever, there’s something really relevant no matter who you are and what you’re experiencing,” Stavros said. “And the more people that can experience that relevance and humanity and sort of ask those questions and see great language, and great art portrayed in a meaningful way, it’s valuable. And there’s nothing more valuable, I think, than seeing it in your own community.”