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Pittsfield Shakespeare In The Park Mounts Fundraiser For 2021 Season

A banner for the new Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park season hangs off scaffolding
Josh Landes
A banner from the 2019 Pittsfield Shakespeare In The Park season hangs in The Common.

Heading into its sixth season, Pittsfield Shakespeare In The Park is undertaking what it calls its most ambitious fundraising campaign yet. It comes after COVID-19 curtailed the organization’s 2020 plans. WAMC spoke with founder and artistic director Enrico Spada about 2021, and how it intends to use the $20,000 it’s hoping to raise this winter.

We're different than in respect to the other organizations in the Berkshires, because we mainly are project based, right? We do this one big show every year. And that's it. We don't have a lot of overhead costs or operational costs, or a building that we need to maintain. So while we were unable to do a show this year, because of the pandemic, and because of the limitations on gathering, and things like that, we are basically just sort of starting fresh for next year, you know. We're in pretty good shape, I would say, organizationally and financially for us to just get started, like we always do kind of picking up the baton from one year to the next. And for this coming year, the pandemic does bring with it a lot of challenges, because there's still so many unknowns. We don't know if it'll be safe in eight month two together to do a show, even though we are outdoors, right? The city itself, because it's city property, there's certain limitations that we have to, you know, follow and abide by. And it's different than if we were kind of, you know, if we had did have our own building, if we were on our own private property, for example. So there are those things to keep in mind. And what we're doing as we plan is coming up with some, I don't want to call them backup plans, because what we're trying to do is incorporate these sort of virtual programming ideas that we're having into what our plan is. So no matter what, we have something for everybody, you know. We have multiple ways in to access what we're planning aside from just showing up at the park with a group of people to see the show.

The group is undertaking what you describe as the most ambitious fundraising campaign yet. You're trying to raise $20,000, from the public to carry out some kind of vision of Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park in 2021. Walk me through this, what is that money going to go to?

So up till now, Shakespeare in the Park has been a- I like to call it community theater plus, because a lot of the actors that we work with have done a lot of professional work. At the same time, they're really interested in doing Shakespeare and giving back to the community. So they've been working for us for very little compensation. So this year, given the pandemic especially but also because it's just a long time coming, we are making a concerted effort to pay those actors a much more equitable compensation stipend than they have been receiving in the past for one thing. And additionally, we, in order to do the sort of extra kind of- The backup programming that I just talked about for the pandemic, maybe a live-streaming of the performance or something along those lines. We need a little bit more of a cushion to help us plan those and harness the technologies that we would need to make those things happen. So that's why this year our fundraising goal is so much bigger. It's because we're trying to increase the pay for our artists, and also, at the same time, take on these extra avenues of programming to increase the accessibility of our shows.

Now, what does a more accessible Pittsfield Shakespeare in the Park look like to you?

There are so many ways we can make our shows more accessible. But the main one that we're looking at is, I mean, without getting into detail, the main goal we're trying to accomplish is to make it so that way, even if it is still not safe for for folks to gather in a central location next summer, even if, you know, we have the permission to do so, there's still going to be a lot of people who we think are unable to get there. So we want to make sure that people can from their homes, you know, from the comfort and safety of their homes, be able to still participate and engage with the art if they would like to. So that's the sort of main one, but then there are also things that we could be doing better. And we're exploring how. But for folks, you know, things like sign-interpreted performances, or audio-described performances for folks with hearing or visual impairments. So things like that we're also looking at, but it's really about trying to find a way to make it as easy to get to as possible from wherever you are.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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