Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival Announces Major 2021 Back on the Beach Fundraising Campaign
NOVEMBER 18, 2020, VANCOUVER, B.C. – Western Canada’s largest and longest-running Shakespeare festival has announced the launch of a major fundraising campaign, in support of efforts to bring Bard on the Beach and its iconic tents back to Vancouver’s Vanier Park/Sen’ákw in 2021. The Festival, a pillar of Vancouver’s summer festival scene since 1990, was forced to cancel its 2020 season due to COVID-19 safety restrictions. That cancellation created severe financial challenges for Bard, which normally generates 70% of its annual operating revenues from annual ticket sales.
As Artistic Director Christopher Gaze notes, “We knew that our decision to cancel would leave us financially vulnerable, and potentially threaten our survival. We’ve been working hard ever since to restore our financial health and to achieve our vision of bringing our Festival back next year. This matching campaign has the potential to transform our efforts, as well as protecting our Education programs and community outreach activities.”
The new fundraising campaign, titled Back on the Beach, is the initiative of a group of Vancouver arts philanthropists that includes Jefferson Mooney and Suzanne Bolton, Peter and Joanne Brown, the Hon. Grant D. Burnyeat Q.C., Pamela and Dave Richardson, and the entire Bard Board of Directors. This group has committed to donating up to $300,000 on a matching basis; Bard’s challenge is to raise another $300,000 from the community, to reach the total campaign goal of $600,000. Jeff Mooney and Suzanne Bolton explain why they’re providing key support, “Bard on the Beach is one of North America’s finest theatre companies. It’s a true Vancouver icon that deserves everyone’s support – because it informs, educates, entertains and makes our City a better place.”
The Festival’s programming plans for 2021 are not yet finally decided. Given the uncertainty about ongoing COVID-19 gathering restrictions, Bard is exploring a variety of options for a programming lineup and site facilities that will give the most entertaining experience possible while also protecting the health and safety of the staff, artistic Company, patrons and the community at large. An announcement on a final lineup, performance dates and ticket options is expected early in 2021. In 2020, the Festival pivoted to create a range of online programming titled Bard Beyond the Beach; it includes a BMO Virtual Mainstage series that features performance and commentary from Bard artistic Company members from across Canada. Meantime, Bard’s Education programming continues year-round, including online sessions for schools and Speech of the Week, a new free online program for the general public.