This is part of an ongoing series of regional Shakespeare coverage. It’s Jenny (@JennyHatch) here with the latest in Shakespeare news from Utah.
Recently, I had a chance to sit down with Utah Shakespearean Festival Founder Fred Adams for a video interview. Here is a clip from my upcoming documentary, Cedar City Utah’s Mr. Shakespeare – Fred Adams:
Adams on financing a theatrical company:
“Underwriting from the local Lions Club, nobody else kind of caught the vision of what we were doing…
But the Lions said, ‘How much of the thousand dollars do you think you can raise in ticket sales?’
And I, I explained to them that I thought we’d be able to raise it all.
So they underwrote the Utah Shakespearean Festival, this fledgling organization for up to a thousand dollars that we did not achieve in ticket sales. Well, it was–it was a dream because we never used any of the Lions money, we didn’t need to. We had almost, over four thousand patrons that came to the play. We had paid off our thousand dollar bills in the community and we had sufficient money to begin a second season.
We never have gone into debt. We have never borrowed money or taken out a loan. We have spent the money we raised the previous year. It’s meant we grew small. We grew slowly. But, we grew. And no chance of bankruptcy or some financial disaster closing us down.
Fifty-four years later, the Utah Shakespeare Festival hires over three hundred and fifty employees. We have a company of three hundred and fifty drawn from all over the English speaking world here to work in the summer on the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
In addition to that, we have thirty, about thirty, full time staff members. Our budget of a thousand dollars back in 1962, has grown to a budget of about seven million point two.
It’s totally self generated. We are not subsidized. We do not have money from the legislature, we don’t have money from the university; we are a department in the university, but we are totally self-funding.
Which of course, is to our liking, because it gives us some autonomy and it also means that we have to deliver. We have to do the very best work possible because we have to make next year’s budget.
It has grown a patron base. This year, I would venture a guess that we will be over a hundred and twenty thousand–above, even a hundred and thirty thousand people–drawn not only from every state in the union but also from eleven to twelve foreign countries.
So we have become a gigantic economic engine for Southern Utah. Where Christmas is the only big retail time in most communities, Utah Shakespeare Festival has given Cedar City a second Christmas season, and we generate in tourist dollars for this community, over thirty six million dollars annually.”