Unprecedented Partnership Between Department of Defense and National Endowment for the Arts Sends Shakespeare to American Military Bases
Congress overwhelmingly approves '04 Defense Appropriations bill with $1 million for Arts Endowment to bring Shakespeare to military families
October 2, 2003
Washington, D.C. - In an unprecedented effort to reach millions of American military personnel and their families, the National Endowment for the Arts is partnering with the Department of Defense to bring its national theatrical tour, Shakespeare in American Communities to military bases.
With passage by Congress of the FY 2004 Department of Defense Appropriations bill, comes $1 million for the National Endowment for the Arts to fund a professional tour of Shakespeare theater to U.S. military bases.
"We currently have the best trained and best educated military in the history of the United States," said Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. "If we are truly going to fulfill our charge of bringing art of indisputable excellence to all Americans, we have to reach into communities where we've never gone before. I think it's safe to say that the National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Defense have never before been mentioned in the same sentence. We're delighted to make cultural history."
Shakespeare in American Communities is a nationwide tour of professional, live theatrical productions of William Shakespeare's plays, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the Sallie Mae Fund of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region and with Arts Midwest. The tour, which was launched September 20, 2003 in New London, Connecticut, brings high quality, professional theater productions of Shakespeare - and related educational activities - to Americans throughout the country. The tour will visit more than 100 small and mid-size communities in all 50 states. It is the largest tour of Shakespeare in American history.
"From the beginning of this project, we envisioned including military bases," Gioia added. "We went to the Pentagon and to Congress with the idea and were met with enthusiasm and excitement. Senator Ted Stevens fully embraced the idea and we're deeply appreciative of his support."
Shakespeare in American Communities comprises six - soon to be seven - theater companies touring four plays. The seventh will now be added, charged primarily with touring military bases. All the companies selected are exemplary, professional, not-for-profit groups with substantial touring experience.
Alabama Shakespeare Festival will now join the tour, bringing Macbeth to military bases in the United States.
The National Endowment for the Arts currently is working with the Department of Defense to select the specific bases.
"This is the beginning of what I believe will be a successful partnership," said Gioia, who is working with the Defense Department on additional artistic pursuits to benefit our military men and women. "Stay tuned! There's more good news to come."
For more information, contact the NEA Office of Communications at 202-682-5570.
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