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Shakespeare Fest: The show will go on

The Heart of America Shakespeare Festival this afternoon had raised $93,000 of the $100,000 the festival needed to avoid canceling its annual show this summer.

Wednesday was the deadline for raising the money but Sidonie Garrett, producing artistic director, said $8,000 more had been pledged and she expected to have it in hand by midnight. In addition, a portion of the money raised will be matched by a grant from the John C. Griswold Foundation of Chicago. Garrett wouldn’t say how much would be matched but conceded that it would be “significant.”

Since announcing the festival was facing a fiscal shortfall that put this year’s production of “Macbeth” in jeopardy, Garrett said donations have come in from individuals, corporations and foundations.

“We’ve had from $5 to $15,000,” Garrett said.

The festival has no endowment, as some arts organizations do, so the annual budget must be raised from scratch each year. Garrett said that an endowment campaign was launched in 2002 but it was contingent on matching funds from the Missouri Cultural Trust. But the trust funds became unavailable because of a state budget crisis and there has been no other effort to create an endowment since then, she said.

“Macbeth” is scheduled to run June 14 through July 3 in Southmoreland Park. This will the 19th season since the festival began in 1993. Garrett said that despite this year’s financial problems, she hoped to stage two shows in repertory in 2012 to mark the organization’s 20th anniversary.

“It was announced from the stage last season that one of our goals was to return to a two-show season in the future and the crowd went wild,” she said,

This year’s budget is about $620,000 and producing a second show would add about $80,000 to production costs, she said. She said a decision on whether to stage two shows next year would be made in the fall.

In the short term, her focus is on this year’s single production.

“We feel very confident we will be picnicking in the park and watching the play come June 14,” she said.

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