Lady Macbeth (MacKenzie Beyer) reads a letter in a 2019 touring production of Macbeth, sponsored in part by Shakespeare in American Communities. Photo by Jennifer Koskinen.

Author: Heidi Schmidt

Colorado Shakespeare Festival Receives $25,000 NEA Grant

The Shakespeare in American Communities grant funds CSF’s Shakespeare & Violence prevention project, touring virtually to schools in 2020-21.

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is one of 40 professional theater companies across the nation selected to receive a Shakespeare in American Communities grant to support outreach to middle and high schools. This week’s announcement from Arts Midwest marks the third year CSF has been awarded this grant. Along with CSF, two other Colorado theater companies (the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Theatreworks in Colorado Springs) will receive this grant for 2020-21.

Shakespeare in American Communities logo

Now in its 18th year, Shakespeare in American Communities is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest supporting high-quality Shakespeare productions and educational activities in middle schools, high schools, and juvenile justice facilities throughout the United States. 

CSF’s Shakespeare & Violence Prevention project has introduced more than 112,000 Colorado students to Shakespeare since 2011, using live performance and interactive classroom workshops. Due to coronavirus concerns, CSF has redesigned the program to a virtual format to ensure student and artist safety, while continuing to connect young Coloradans with Shakespeare. Middle and high schools throughout the state will view pre-recorded performances of CSF actors in “Much Ado About Nothing,” directed by Producing Artistic Director Timothy Orr. Elementary-aged students will view “The Comedy of Errors,” directed by Managing Director Wendy Franz. Students will also participate in real-time virtual workshops with the actors, using theatre techniques (supported by behavioral science research) to help them practice intervention strategies for increasing empathy and preventing violence in their schools.

“This school tour is a crucial component of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival as a whole, and it is the first exposure to Shakespeare for many young people across our state,” said Orr. “We are facing so many challenges as a nation, and we know that bringing Shakespeare into schools (albeit virtually) will help students connect with the arts in meaningful and enriching ways.”

This program is a partnership between CSF and the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence on campus at CU Boulder, and is additionally supported by a CU Boulder Outreach Award and by Colorado Creative Industries.

Shakespeare in American Communities will award $1 million to professional theater companies partnering with schools, and $170,000 to organizations partnering with facilities in the juvenile justice system. Since the program’s inception in 2003, Shakespeare in American Communities has introduced more than 3 million middle and high school students to the power of live theater and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare through performances and educational activities.

“Many of Shakespeare’s plays were written during a plague. Major works like ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Antony and Cleopatra,’ ‘The Winter’s Tale’ and ‘The Tempest’ were created in a time of extreme difficulty and adversity,” said Christy Dickinson, Arts Midwest’s senior program director. “The goal of Shakespeare in American Communities has always been to help Shakespeare’s works come alive for students, allowing young people to develop social and emotional skills important to their success. We’re proud that this work continues despite the challenges of this year, thanks to our theater companies who are pivoting their programming to help students connect with Shakespeare, teaching artists, and actors in new ways.”

Arts Midwest and National Endowment for the Arts logos

CSF's Shakespeare & Violence Prevention school tour

Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s touring program uses professional quality performance and the latest bullying and school violence research.

More Info about CSF's Shakespeare & Violence Prevention school tour