This time last month, the Austin Shakespeare Festival was facing a grim deadline: raise $25,000 by Dec. 1 or risk the cancellation of its repertory staging of Othello, Titus Andronicus, and The Winter's Tale in January and its spring production of Romeo and Juliet. This was no ransom from Elizabethan kidnappers but an ultimatum from the ASF board of directors, who were determined to stanch the flow of red ink across the company's ledger and gauge the ASF artists' commitment to helping pull the festival out of debt. According to ASF Artistic Director Guy Roberts, the Austin Shakespeareans responded to the call by raising $25,140 in donations, pledges, and offers to defer salaries in just over three weeks. When board members learned this at their Dec. 8 meeting, they voted to support the rest of the season. With the exception of Othello, which has been postponed, all shows will proceed as planned. ASF is not out of the woods, however, so fundraising will continue, with a bake sale at BookPeople on Jan. 10, a donor party on Jan. 13, and a performance with silent auction Jan. 24.
I can't say that I'm reporting this as a disinterested party, as I've already appeared in one ASF show this season and am directing The Winter's Tale, in which my wife and daughter will appear. That said, I'm encouraged by any arts company beating the odds in these financially tough times and will gladly report any similar arts success stories. Send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on ASF, call 454-BARD or visit www.austinshakespeare.org.
Ballet Austin has received an $11,500 grant from the Austin Community Foundation to help fund the educational curriculum for its ballet of The Taming of the Shrew, created by Artistic Director Stephen Mills on commission from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The grant enabled BA's community outreach and education director to meet with experts from the Kennedy Center about developing educational resources for diverse audiences.
Meanwhile, the Zachary Scott Theatre Center is on the hunt for a director of development to lead its fundraising program. Candidates should possess excellent written and verbal communication skills, minimum experience of four years in nonprofit fundraising, and a successful track record in same. Send résumé and references to: Ann Ciccolella, managing director, Zachary Scott Theatre Center, 1510 Toomey, Austin, TX 78704.
Congratulations to Mexic-Arte Museum Store on being named one of the "Top 10 Great Places to Find Museum-Quality Gifts" for this Christmas season in the Nov. 28 edition of USA Today. The store, which features unique ornaments and gifts from traditional Mayan huipiles to modern silk designs by Pineda Covalin to copper and leather journals by Jose Chapa, was ranked alongside the San Diego Zoo, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Field Museum of natural history.
This is the last week to submit applications for the Texas Commission on the Arts' 2004 Class of Young Masters Program scholarship, which provides exemplary arts students in eighth through 12th grades with financial help to pursue advanced study in the areas of visual arts, literature, music, theatre, dance, and media arts. Approximately 18 students will receive the title of Young Master and be granted scholarships of up to $2,500. Applications must be postmarked by Monday, Dec. 15. For information, call 936-6564 or visit www.arts.state.tx.us.
Our reigning wiseacre, Chris Fairbanks, the 2003 Funniest Person in Austin, goes global this week, with an appearance on Comedy Central's Premium Blend Friday, 9pm.
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