Tennessee Shakespeare Company Named 1 of Only 40 U.S. Theatres to Receive Shakespeare in American Communities Grant

Tennessee Shakespeare Company Named 1 of Only 40 U.S. Theatres to Receive Shakespeare in American Communities Grant Arts Midwest yesterday announced $1 million in grants to Tennessee Shakespeare Company and 39 other nonprofit, professional theater companies across 27 states, plus the District of Columbia, to perform the works of William Shakespeare for students through Shakespeare in American Communities.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company receives the matching grant award of $25,000 for its innovative 2018 Romeo and Juliet Project for the fifth time in its organizational history.

The Project will perform Romeo and Juliet nearly 30 times in more than 20 Memphis area high schools and teach over 700 in-school sessions for a total of 23,000 student interactions with a curriculum-based, classical play that teaches compassion, non-violence, and articulation.

TSC will partner with Shelby County Schools, the Germantown Municipal School District, the Collierville Municipal School District, charter schools, and private schools to engage ninth-grade students interactively with classical text that is part of the core Language Arts curriculum in the state.

The awards mark the 16th consecutive year of Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program managed by Arts Midwest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. Each of the participating theatre companies will present productions of Shakespeare plays to students from 10 or more schools.

Accompanying educational activities include in-school residencies, workshops, and post-performance discussions. Performances will take place between August 1, 2018, and May 15, 2019.

Since the program's inception in 2003, Shakespeare in American Communities has introduced 2.5 million middle and high school students to the power of live theatre and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare through performances and educational activities.

"Each year, thousands of students have an opportunity to experience Shakespeare performances and educational activities through Shakespeare in American Communities," said National Endowment for the Arts Chairman, Jane Chu. "The National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest are committed to expanding access to the arts to audiences across the country."

One hundred and eleven theatre companies across the United States have taken part in Shakespeare in American Communities since 2003. These companies have presented 33 Shakespeare plays through 11,300 performances and 41,500 educational activities at more than 10,000 schools in 4,300 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"TSC's teachers, actors, staff, Board of Directors, and I are deeply grateful to Arts Midwest and the National Endowment for the Arts for continuing its crucial support of our life-changing work in hundreds of Memphis area classrooms," says TSC Founder and Producing Artistic Director Dan McCleary. "We intend to match this grant quickly through the generosity of Mid-South citizens who are eager to sustain an education initiative that results in genuine intellectual, behavioral, academic, and social development for our children here who too often end up like the five children at the conclusion of Romeo and Juliet. In the play, the adults are no less complicit than the children in the tragic outcome. I argue they are responsible. So are we, as adults and parents and teachers in 2018. Shakespeare was a revolutionary, and we now see so many in Memphis following his lead.

"Thanks to this matching grant from Arts Midwest and the N.E.A. (the financial health of which now, more than ever, is vital to our country's humanity), TSC will be able to expand the Romeo and Juliet Project into another month of programming. We now have a waiting list of schools and teachers wanting Shakespeare in their classrooms. Not just for the promise of higher grades, but for the positive change in our children's lives. We believe the playing of Shakespeare, not the study of Shakespeare, must be central to every child's formal education."

TSC was one of the three regional theatres selected to represent all 40 recipients in the NEA's media release. View the complete list of 40 theatre companies that have been selected to participate in Shakespeare in American Communities for 2018-19:

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people's lives. Based in Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 30 years. For more information, visit artsmidwest.org.

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America's rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit arts.gov.

Created in 2008 by Dan McCleary, TSC is the Mid-South's professional, 501(c)(3) theatre and education organization which performs the plays of William Shakespeare as well as other classical and Southern writers, and provides innovative year-round educational and training programming.

In August 2017, TSC purchased outright the former home of Ballet Memphis, which TSC is remodeling into the state's first and only permanent home for professional, year-round Shakespeare performance, education, and training.

Now concluding its tenth season, TSC has produced 43 site-specific plays and events for over 50,000 patrons since inception. Its innovative Education program has reached 130 schools across seven states, totaling over 170,000 student interactions.

TSC now performs and teaches every month of the year, and annually plays to over 10,000 patrons annually, tours to 5?6 southern states with its education shows, and is welcomed into at least 80 schools. TSC's education program has achieved a high regional and national profile. The program has been endorsed by Shelby County Schools, Germantown Municipal Schools, Collierville Municipal schools, and the National Endowment for the Arts (one of just 40 U.S. theatres to be acknowledged).

TSC's generous season sponsors include FedEx; the family of Ernest and Pat Kelly; Nancy R. Copp; Independent Bank; Tennessee Arts Commission; Ann and Wellford Tabor; Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund; Evans/Petree, P.C.; International Paper; Arts Midwest; Arts Memphis; and The National Endowment for the Arts. TSC's season is funded under a Grant Contract with the State of Tennessee. For more information: www.tnshakespeare.org.

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