The City of Germantown eliminates Shakespeare funding for FY2014: What's next?

Posted by Chris Davis on Tue, Jun 25, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Prosperos Book
  • Prospero's Book

The final vote has come and gone, and the City of Germantown has chosen by a 5-0 budget vote, not to restore the $70,000 in funding that supported the Tennessee Shakespeare Company's educational programing.

"This vote will have devastating consequences on our ability to provide education programming for students in our community," TSC's founding director Dan McCleary wrote in a prepared statement. "Its impact will be felt immediately as we begin to re-program our upcoming sixth season, which we hope to be able to announce to you shortly. Its impact also will be felt this year as we undertake a review of our organization's long-range planning."

Publicly-assisted arts organizations are easy targets in budget battles, and the recently cut TSC is, at least, in good company. The Iris Orchestra, helmed by conductor Michael Stern, was birthed at GPAC in 2000 with the help of a $200,000 grant from the City of Germantown. In 2007 the IRIS Foundation was established to transition into the private sphere. And the beat goes on.

Obviously this isn't good news for a scrappy professional company that has, in its short history, produced shows, deployed teachers, conducted camps, and developed all the trappings of an institution with staying power. If the company's last gala fundraiser is any kind of indicator, there is quite a bit of private support for McCleary's troupe, and a hero in this saga may yet emerge. Also, to play Devil's advocate for a moment, and with all due respect for Mr. Shakespeare, $70,000 is a fair chunk of change for a city to spend in the service of any one author, primarily. It's also difficult to determine what kind of branding value the inclusively-named Tennessee Shakespeare Company provided, especially with many of the company's recent performances drawing audiences, and their loose dollars, to locations inside the I-240 loop.

So, does this budget cut represent the end of the world? Maybe for TSC's education program as it exists now, but McCleary ends his note with an encouraging word: "Onward."

It's helpful to remember that the new $14.5-million-dollar Playhouse on the Square was built with zero city assistance, and in all likelihood POTS's long capital campaign will finally come to a close at the end of this month. It's possible that, as this massive effort winds down, new sets of fundraising opportunities will be created.

On a related note, with a million promised by the City of Memphis, it will be interesting to monitor the progress of the new Hattiloo Theatre, which broke ground earlier this month. In the meantime, TSC's McCleary, and Hattiloo's founding director Ekundayo Bandele might want to get together for a drink.

I'd also be interested to hear what interested and concerned parties think about what's happened, what it means, and what's next.

Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

He that wants money, means, and content in Germantown is without three good friends.

report 4 likes, 2 dislikes   
Posted by Valibus on 06/25/2013 at 2:08 PM

Though I always whence when funding to the arts is cut anywhere, I feel that this will indeed be a move onward. It seems that the relationship between the company and Germatown had grown almost parasitic. It's also difficult to sympathize with a company that has stayed snobbishly distant from the rest of the city's theatre community for its tenure. Furthermore, some students definitely need the kind of education provided by Tennessee Shakes, but of all of the students in the Memphis education system I feel the ones in Germantown will do just fine.

report 5 likes, 5 dislikes   
Posted by chiarts on 06/25/2013 at 2:35 PM


report 2 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by Grammar Cop on 06/25/2013 at 3:42 PM

et tu germantown

report 4 likes, 0 dislikes   
Posted by LTC on 06/25/2013 at 9:47 PM

This is just the beginning. Germantown or any other city is no different than Memphis. Unless the citizens of a municipality accept tax hikes to pay for everything it wants, then something will have to be cut.

Have you noticed that, unlike the Germantown people, no Memphians are chiming in, saying that Gtown is incompetent, etc? The internal affairs of Germantown is their business, not the concern of people who don't live there.

report 2 likes, 4 dislikes   
Posted by oldtimeplayer on 06/26/2013 at 9:17 AM


You wrote:

"This is just the beginning. Germantown or any other city is no different than Memphis. Unless the citizens of a municipality accept tax hikes to pay for everything it wants, then something will have to be cut."

I congratulate you once again on your ability to recognize and state the obvious.

BTW, what exactly is this the beginning of in Germantown? Or do you want to restrain yourself and not "chime in", after all ?

report 3 likes, 2 dislikes   
Posted by ArlingtonPop on 06/26/2013 at 9:38 AM

I am confident that people, thousands of people, will step up to the plate and give...No mention why GHS TV got more money than expected.

report 1 like, 0 dislikes   
Posted by mayfield on 06/26/2013 at 3:04 PM
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment