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Delaware Shakespeare receives NEA Grant

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Wilmington – The National Endowment for the Arts has awarded Delaware Shakespeare a $50,000 grant through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Delaware Shakespeare is one of eight hundred and fifty-five nonprofit organizations across the nation selected for funding to support staff salaries, fees for artists or contractual personnel, and facilities cost.

“All of us at the National Endowment for the Arts are keenly aware that arts organizations across the country are hurting, struggling, and trying to survive and that our supply of funding does not come close to meeting the demand for assistance,” said Arts Endowment Chairman Mary Anne Carter in a statement. “That said, I am enormously proud of the over-and-above efforts of the Arts Endowment staff to swiftly and professionally manage such a large amount of additional work in a relatively short period of time on behalf of the American public.”

A Portion of the NEA CARES Act award is being allocated to hire four Associate Artists to join  Delaware Shakespeare through the end of the year. Newton Buchanan, Bi Jean Ngo and Emily Schuman, three theatre artists with a combined ten Del Shakes productions between, will work with Producing Artistic Director to develop new online and, potentially, small-scale, in-person programming for Del Shakes to offer to the community. Wilmington writer Gail Obenreder will join Del Shakes as an Arts Journalist-in-Residence, documenting Del Shakes programming efforts in the time of COVID-19. An introductory Associate Artist event titled “Three Artists, Four Humors & Food!” is scheduled for Saturday, August 29 at 7:30 p.m. Bi, Emily, and Newton will share their love of food, Shakespeare, and Elizabethan history by sharing recipes that connect to various Shakespeare characters. The event is Pay-What-You-Decide. Patrons can register for this Zoom program for free through the Delaware Shakespeare website and will be sent a link immediately after the event inviting guests to pay what they believe the program was worth.

The addition of the new Associate Artists and the potential of new programming softens a disappointing development for Del Shakes and its nationally-recognized Community Tour.

“While we’re disappointed not to be able to bring a full production to our Community Tour partners in 2020, this was the only decision that made sense given the vulnerable nature of many of our audiences,” said producing artistic director, David Stradley in a statement. “The tour producing model is defined by an up-close and personal connection between actor and audience. We bring 8-10 artists and 40-100 audience members into small spaces, where the actor is only a few feet away from the audience. This sort of performance style is not possible at the moment.”

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