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June 6, 2005

Congressman Farr lauds NEA grant for Shakespeare Santa Cruz

By Scott Rappaport

Congressman Sam Farr praised the National Endowment for the Arts for providing support to Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC) at last Friday’s final 2005 performance by Shakespeare To Go at UCSC's Second Stage Theater.

Congressman Sam Farr (top row, middle with red tie), surrounded by Arts Division faculty and cast members of Shakespeare To Go, after the final 2005 performance of The Winter’s Tale

Photo: Steve DiBartolomeo

Farr spoke after a 50-minute performance of The Winter’s Tale, in front of an audience made up of schoolchildren from Boulder Creek, faculty, staff, and students.

It marked the conclusion of a two-month tour of the play that included 48 performances in 37 venues before more than 8,000 middle and high school students from Santa Clara to Monterey.

This year’s tour was significantly augmented due to the NEA’s “Shakespeare for a New-Generation” initiative--the largest Shakespeare project in American history--designed to provide students in all 50 states with the opportunity to experience professional theater productions of Shakespeare’s plays. The program also provides free educational materials to thousands of classrooms to enhance the educational impact. SSC received a grant of $25,000.

“I congratulate everyone at Shakespeare Santa Cruz who has invested time and effort into this wonderful production,” said Farr. “This NEA funding is essential to ensuring that high quality programs like Shakespeare To Go are able to continue bringing art to schools and communities, so that everyone in our country has the opportunity to learn and appreciate the rich cultural and artistic history of our world.”

Shakespeare To Go was established by SSC 16 years ago in collaboration with the Theater Arts Department. Each year, a member of the theater arts faculty directs a 50-minute version of a play that will be presented at the next SSC summer festival. The play is rehearsed during winter quarter, and performances take place in the schools during the months of April and May in Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara Counties.

“This has been the biggest tour we’ve ever done because grant money has allowed us to go places we’ve never gone before,” noted Sara Wilbourne, tour manager for Shakespeare To Go. “For example, because of the NEA grant, we were able to go to Salinas this year. And with the help of a grant from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Youth Fund, we were able to go to additional schools in the Monterey area.”

Wilbourne added that SSC also received an additional grant from the Community Foundation Silicon Valley to enable performances in Santa Clara County.

SSC is one of 22 theater companies across the country that received the NEA grants. After noting that the United States spends more on advertising national agricultural products than it does on the National Endowment for the Arts, Farr said he is working hard to dispel the notion that there is not a role for the government in promoting the arts.

“I’m proud that the NEA brought $25,000 to this program,” Farr said. “And I’m going to work like mad to see that we get more next year.”

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