Utah Shakespearean Festival Tightens Budget & Makes Cutbacks

Utah Shakespearean Festival Tightens Budget & Makes CutbacksWith many theatre companies across the country closing because of the recent economic downturn, the Utah Shakespearean Festival is tightening its belt and making adjustments and cutbacks to its 2009 season to ensure its continued artistic and financial solvency.

The Festival ended 2008 with a slight deficit, but administrators are looking forward and planning to weather the deepening financial storm-although they admit it has involved making some difficult decisions. Changes decided upon include the shortening of the summer season by one week, changing the line-up and calendar of plays in the fall season, eliminating some positions, and several other money-saving cuts.

"As we look ahead to the coming year and predictions of a furthering recession," said R. Scott Phillips, Festival executive director, "we want to be pro-active and guarantee that the Festival (which was founded nearly 50 years ago) continues for at least another half-century."

"Thus, we have taken a fine scalpel and carefully sliced away costs in ways that will not hurt our artistic product or the experience of our patrons," he continued.

First, the Festival has eliminated one week from its summer season, closing one week earlier. The season will run June 29 to August 29 and feature Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, Henry V, and As You Like It, a well as Noel Coward's Private Lives, the charming and emotionally-rich Foxfire, and the family musical The Secret Garden.

In addition, the fall season has changed dramatically. Instead of running September 25 to October 24 as previously announced, it will now be September 18 to October 17. Also, the plays to be performed have been changed. Instead of Pericles, The Woman in Black, and Pump Boys and Dinettes, the fall season will feature Tuesdays with Morrie, the touching tale of a teacher and his student adapted from the popular book; the ghostly and mysterious The Woman in Black; and the hilarious farce, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

"These plays require fewer actors and other resources, yet still meet our mission of providing life-affirming classic and contemporary plays," said Phillips in making the announcement. "In fact, the fall season provides something for everyone: comedy, mystery, and a heart-felt drama."

Patrons who have purchased tickets for the canceled or altered performances, can call the Festival Ticket Office at 800-PLAYTIX (800-752-9849) to exchange their tickets for other dates or plays, exchange them for a certificate redeemable for future performances, or receive a refund. Of course, no fees will be charged for these changes; in fact, the Festival is including a small gift to anyone who exchanges their tickets-as a way of saying "thanks" for understanding this difficult situation.

Changes that will be less noticeable to the patron but which helped balance next year's reduced budget include the elimination of three year-round full-time positions, as well as a number of seasonal positions. Also, every department within the Festival made across-the-board cuts, and department directors feel they have been able to do that without negatively impacting the experience of the playgoer.

All-in-all these changes allowed the Festival to cut over $700,000 from its 2009 budget, anticipating the weak economy.

"This is not a picture of doom and gloom," said Phillips. "Instead we feel we are being pro-active to guarantee as best as possible the experience of our patrons and the continued viability of this great theatre experience. We are still going to be here this season, and next season, and many more seasons in the future."

"Most of all," he added. "We have been aware of our patrons in this process. We have not cut any of the programs they have grown to love, including the free seminars and the popular Greenshow. We appreciate their support and their understanding in these unsure times; and we promise to honor the trust they have placed in us."

Tickets are now on sale for the 2009 season. To purchase yours now, visit our website at www.bard.org or call the Ticket Office at 800-PLAYTIX (800-752-9849).


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