Shakespeare & Company Secures Kresge Grant

Successful Conclusion of $10 Million Capital Campaign

By: - Aug 06, 2010

Shakespeare Shakespeare

On the strength of a widespread showing of support from the community , Shakespeare & Company has just received an $800,000 challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation. The funds were released after the Company raised an additional $1.5 million bringing its $10 million Capital Campaign , launched at its 30th Anniversary Gala in May 2007, to a successful conclusion. The centerpiece of the Campaign has been the creation of the Bernstein Center for the Performing Arts , a production center including state of the art rehearsal studios , new scene and property shops , and the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre. 
The push to meet the Kresge challenge was embraced by the patrons of the Company’s record-breaking 2009-2010 season , who rose to the occasion to make gifts both large and small. The Kresge challenge provoked unprecedented financial support from first-time donors: over 900 individuals contributed to the effort , including 400 first-time donors to S&Co.
“Our friends in the community stood by us when we needed them most. On behalf of Shakespeare & Company’s trustees , overseers , and staff , I want to thank everyone who pitched in and gave us their support, allowing us to reach this milestone. Our relationship , as an organization , with generations of students , students of acting , and lovers of theatre is truly a remarkable one. S&Co.’s mission at its core is a community endeavor , and that is borne out by the support that enabled us to receive this Kresge challenge grant.  We couldn’t have done this without the strong leadership and tireless efforts of long-time trustees and Campaign Co-Chairs, Michael A. Miller and Dorothy Weber,” said Richard A. Mescon , chairman of S&Co.’s board of trustees.
“It is wonderful that the community phase of this effort was met with such success, even in these challenging financial times, and shows that the work Shakespeare & Company does each day is appreciated and celebrated by so many individuals,” said Miller.
The Kresge Foundation, a major international force in the world of philanthropic giving, has been a catalyst in the building of facilities for nonprofit organizations in the United States for the past 83 years. Its Capital Challenge Grant, which awards funds to an organization if it raises an agreed upon amount from private sources, has helped communities across the country build libraries, schools, hospitals, museums, community centers and food banks, among other brick and mortar projects. The foundation is based outside Detroit , Michigan , and issues grants strictly to nonprofit organizations working in one of six areas , including arts and culture.
“Shakespeare and Company’s impact on the larger artistic community is evidenced by both its commitment to producing new works and providing classical theatre training. We are pleased to support the new Bernstein Center for the Performing Arts , ” said Rip Rapson , President and CEO of The Kresge Foundation , when announcing the challenge grant in early 2009.
This Kresge announcement comes on the heels of a major refinancing package and organizational restructuring that has placed S&Co. on firm financial footing as it continues producing plays on three stages , conducting highly esteemed training programs for professional actors from around the world , and working with some 50 , 000 students throughout the region every year in its multitude of education programs.

“I arrived as Artistic Director right as the Kresge campaign was swinging into full gear,” says Artistic Director Tony Simotes . “To see how it energized our patrons , inspiring so many to give to an arts organization for perhaps the first time ever , was a loud reminder to me about the special place Shakespeare & Company has in the community. It’s our job to live up to our end of that relationship , something we strive to do each and every day, on our stages , in our shops , in the schools and in our offices.”
The creation of the Bernstein Center for the Performing Arts has been a community-wide effort , just as the emergence of these new facilities has benefited a host of community organizations. The architect was Stephan Green of Great Barrington’s Clark & Green; the builders were Allegrone Construction and Allegrone Masonry of Pittsfield , who also coordinated the work of over a dozen local subcontractors; the Project Manager was Nicholas J. Puma , Jr. , S&Co.’s Managing Director. A successful completion of the Capital Campaign benefits not only S&Co. , those touched by its programming , and its partners who made the Bernstein Center a reality , but also the many other arts and community groups who are already taking advantage of the availability of these new facilities.
“It has been a long process , to make this 30-acre campus in the heart of historic downtown L enox work for us , ” says Managing Director Nicholas J. Puma, Jr. “A big part of that was getting the Bernstein Center up and running. Would we have enjoyed the luxury to wait for boom times to arrive before tackling that? Sure. But we did what we needed to do , to bring our physical plant and our business model in harmony. The Bernstein Center has made a huge impact in what we’re able to do here , from finally providing world class rehearsal spaces for our actors to generating additional revenue from facility rentals. The range of our programming is broad but our systems are highly integrated, and the Bernstein Center has facilitated the cross-pollination among our different departments as well as we hoped it would.”
Since its “soft opening” in August 2008 , the Bernstein Center has made a profound and immediate impact on S&Co.’s ability to better fulfill its mission by providing world class performance , actor training and education programs to the community. The added flexibility has also given S&Co. a chance to host many events sponsored by other community organizations , including a performance by the Olga Dunn Dance Company , the Tanglewood season announcement , a Berkshire Creative Sparks! networking event , the She’s Got Moxie! Awards and Gala (as part of the Berkshire Festival of Women in the Arts) , the annual CATA Gala, IS183’s Hairball Gala , various film and video shoots , a fashion show and fundraiser by Homeward Bound , fundraisers for community members in need , and more.
The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion international foundation that seeks to build stronger nonprofit organizations. It concentrates its programming on capital campaigns as a key opportunity for nonprofit growth. Its Capital Challenge Grant Program has helped communities across the country build libraries , schools , hospitals , museums , community centers and food banks.