CSF supporter spotlight | Sustaining Shakespeare for future generations
The arts have always been part of Jeffrey Kash’s life.
His mother, Carolyn King Kash, surrounded her children with creative opportunities from a young age, introducing them to music, dance and drama. After discovering a regional summer stock company near his Pennsylvania hometown at age 12, Kash fell in love with the theatre.
Today, Kash’s passion for the performing arts continues alongside his husband, Jeff Nytch—and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (CSF) is one of their favorite summertime haunts.
“We have world-class theatre within our own little area here [in Boulder],” said Kash, a member of CSF’s advisory board. “The Shakespeare Festival elevates the stories to show their relevance in our times, the times in which they were written and everything in between.”
One of the special things about the festival, according to Nytch, is that “you see a lot of the actors coming back year after year. So we not only get to see them in a lot of different plays… but you start to feel like they’re a part of the family.”
Though Nytch—an associate professor in CU Boulder’s College of Music—spends much of his summers in Pittsburgh for his own musical endeavors, he always manages to catch a show or two when he’s back in Boulder. But he can’t compete with Kash, who sees every CSF show at least four or five times—sometimes as many as seven.
“There is a really significant arc watching opening night and closing night for the same show,” said Kash.
To sustain the beloved festival for future generations of theatregoers, Kash and Nytch have included a generous bequest to CSF in their estate plans, one of the festival’s largest gifts to date.
“If we’re going to leave a legacy and leave an impact, we want it to mean something,” said Kash.
The gift is in honor of Kash’s mother, Carolyn, and the indelible mark she left on her children and the world of theatre: “Jeffrey’s mom… was a presence,” said Nytch. “She was her own theatrical production.”
CSF relies on private philanthropic support to operate and sustain the festival, including its associated programs like school outreach, camps, actor coaching, student internships and community events.
“Donor support allows us to take risks and produce the highest quality artistic product—of professional artistry—that is possible,” said Tim Orr, CSF’s producing artistic director.
Even 400 years after Shakespeare penned now-classics like “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” the plays remain relevant to audiences. That’s in large part because they can be produced and presented in so many unique ways—with donor support providing much of the financial freedom for that innovation.
“We don’t have to rely solely on selling tickets to make creative decisions,” said Wendy Franz, managing director for the festival. “That independence is crucial to making meaningful art.”
Kash and Nytch are two such donors who keep the festival thriving year after year. With their gift, the pair emphasizes that they’re placing a vote of confidence in CSF’s longevity and impact—and investing in Boulder’s vibrancy.
“What you see on a stage is only one part of the festival,” said Kash. “The other part is the community that’s gathering to do that production—it’s the community that’s gathering on the lawn as a family to enjoy music before the show. … It’s the entire economy of the city. And that is worth investing in.”
Orr is emphatic about the festival’s value: “If you ever feel that the world is lacking in empathy or beauty, if you’re concerned about crassness or cynicism, if you’re worried about the next generation still being able to have access to live theatre … then your dollar is a vote,” he said. “It is a brick in the wall of creating this cultural wildlife preserve… forever.”
Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the entire 2020 season was postponed and tickets for the 2021 season significantly limited, donor support has ensured CSF can continue to thrive.
“COVID has taught us how important the arts are to everybody,” said Nytch. “I don’t know a single individual who hasn’t relied on the arts in some form… to get through this and stay connected.”