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Shakespeare Festival survives, looks to 2010

Nevada Appeal News Service

The sounds of Shakespeare’s poetic phrases will once again be heard echoing from the stage of Sand Harbor next summer, blended with an expanded version of last year’s Urban Village Music series.

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival announced its revised program for the 2010 season, with a total of seven weeks and 44 consecutive nights of entertainment.

The festival will present 32 performances of the contemporary “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).”

The festival also will present two headlining musical acts Monday and Friday evenings, a total of 10 artists performing over 12 shows.

When asked “Would you come and see two Shakespeare plays?” 70 percent of surveyed subscribers, patrons and community leaders said “no.”

“We were about 10 percent behind attendance from 2008 numbers in 2009,” said Catherine Atack, executive director of the festival. “We also lost close to 70 percent of our corporate sponsorships, as well as many of our philanthropic private donors. Our programming was good, the quality of the plays was good, and the weather we had last summer was quite lovely … but the economic situation took its toll on our business model and that’s why we’ve changed the structure moving into next year.”

The festival will offer lower ticket prices for the music series, ranging from $22 to $77. An additional discount will be offered for seasonal packages.

After losing corporate giants like Southwest Airlines, Atack said she is proud of what the festival has pulled together regardless of layoffs in staff and salary slashing.

Solely dependent on ticket sales and patron support, as well as sponsorships, the 38-year-old festival launched “A Hundred for a Thousand,” effort last year, attempting to get a hundred sponsors to each give $1,000.

Atack expects to exceed the two or three sold-out evenings from last year.

“Our venue capacity is 1,200. We are working with our food vendor (local Brimm’s Catering) to come up with new menus and quicker service, and we hope to add a special Fourth of July weekend that will include a fundraiser. Our goal is to insure the festival remains our area’s most treasured summertime event,” she said.￿