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Announcing the 2023-24 Shakespeare in American Communities Grantees

People perform on a cement square outside with students sitting around them. In the center there's a person wearing a crown and Shakespeare era clothing, seemingly crying out as a person with a cane lays at their feet, appearing to be dead.
Photo Credit: Rachel Fey
Actors performing The Tempest for students at the Colorado Springs School.

49 organizations across the country are receiving over $1.16 million in grants to bring the works of Shakespeare to youth in schools and the juvenile justice system.

Today, Arts Midwest announced the recipients of $1,161,500 in Shakespeare in American Communities grants, with $976,500 going to 41 professional theater companies partnering with schools, and $185,000 going to eight organizations working with students in the juvenile justice system.

Celebrating its 20th year in 2023, Shakespeare in American Communities is a theater program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The program supports high-quality productions and educational activities exploring the work of William Shakespeare in middle schools, high schools, and juvenile justice facilities throughout the United States.

Theater companies are able to choose to either perform a play by Shakespeare or select an adaptation or new play that incorporates Shakespeare’s scenes or monologues. Paired with these performances, each company will host educational activities with students to creatively explore Shakespeare’s work and its context. These performances and educational events will take place between August 1, 2023 and July 31, 2024.

For the first time this year, applicants could choose a range of grant awards ($15k-$25k) to help smaller organizations meet the required match more easily. An additional Juvenile Justice grant was awarded this year, and 11 new grantees were awarded Schools grants.  

“We’re delighted to share the latest group of Shakespeare in American Communities grantees, and can’t wait to see the wide variety of projects they’ll be undertaking this year,” says Joshua Feist, Grants Officer at Arts Midwest . “We’re inspired by grantees taking novel approaches to Shakespeare’s work, from bilingual adaptations to hip hop writing. These innovative interpretations offer young people opportunities to see their own experiences and identities mirrored within the text.”

“Shakespeare in American Communities provides an important opportunity for youth who might not otherwise be exposed to a professional production to experience the magic of live theater,” said Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. “And this program goes even further, engaging youth in activities that explore how a work written more than 400 years ago can still resonate today, helping them to understand the world around them and the impact of the arts.”

One hundred and twenty theater companies and organizations across the United States have taken part in Shakespeare in American Communities since the program’s inception in 2003. To date, the program has supported more than 16,000 performances and 60,000 educational activities at more than 12,000 schools and juvenile justice facilities in 4,700 communities in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.

Examples of projects supported:

  • See Stories (Anchorage, AK)

    See Stories will lead two Shakespeare and Hip-Hop workshops at McLaughlin School in Anchorage. The workshops will be co-facilitated by See Stories Director Marie Acemah, hip-hop artist Tayy Tarantino, and actor Keith McGill. Students will rewrite a section of Romeo and Juliet as a hip hop song and perform their scenes. The workshops will expand on a current See Stories program at McLaughlin.

  • Oye Group (Ridgewood, NY)

    Shake on the Block is a free workshop series that introduces low-income Brooklyn students ages 13-17 to Shakespeare. Together, we break down the complex dynamics of The Bard through scene analysis, playwriting, adaptation, and performance. Students gain the skills to adapt a Shakespearean play using contemporary English and street slang in order to create a multi-media theater production.

  • Eden Performing Arts (El Paso, TX)

    A bilingual, 90-minute adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” for high school students. Performances will be supplemented with targeted after school workshops and in-class 50-minute programs featuring scenes followed by a Q&A, tailored to English, Spanish, dual language and theater classes and addressing issues including teen suicide, gang violence, and teen sexuality.

  • Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (Bloomsburg, PA)

    BTE will venture from their theatre on Center Street for “Off-Center Residencies” in surrounding communities to present a rollicking trunk-show of Twelfth Night. Removing the barrier of travel, they will bring Shakespeare to rural communities to engage middle and high school students and community members with performances and workshops focused on accessing the vitality of Shakespeare’s language.

Shakespeare in American Communities: Juvenile Justice

Grants to support theater education programs in juvenile justice facilities that illuminate the works of Shakespeare and addresses his work in modern context.

Theatre Company/OrganizationCityStateAward
Actors Shakespeare Project IncCharlestownMA$25,000
Kentucky Shakespeare Festival IncLouisvilleKY$15,000
Marin Shakespeare CompanySan RafaelCA$25,000
Oye Group IncRidgewoodNY$25,000
See StoriesAnchorageAK$25,000
Shakespeare Behind Bars IncMacatawaMI$25,000
Southern Utah University 01-65Cedar CityUT$20,000
Tennessee Shakespeare CompanyCordovaTN$25,000

Shakespeare in American Communities: Schools

Grants to support performances of Shakespeare and related educational activities for students from five or more schools.

Theatre Company/OrganizationCityStateAward
A Noise WithinPasadenaCA$25,000
Actors Shakespeare Project IncCharlestownMA$25,000
African-American Shakespeare CompanySan FranciscoCA$25,000
Alabama Shakespeare Festival IncMontgomeryAL$25,000
American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.)San FranciscoCA$25,000
American Players Theatre Of Wisconsin IncSpring GreenWI$25,000
American Shakespeare CenterStauntonVA$25,000
Barter Foundation Incorporated State Theatre Of VirginiaAbingdonVA$25,000
Bloomsburg Theatre EnsembleBloomsburgPA$25,000
Catskill Mountain Shakespeare LtdShandakenNY$25,000
Chicago Shakespeare TheaterChicagoIL$25,000
Cincinnati Shakespeare CompanyCincinnatiOH$25,000
Classical Theatre Of HarlemNew YorkNY$25,000
Columbus Childrens TheatreColumbusOH$21,500
Commonwealth Shakespeare Company IncBostonMA$25,000
Eden Performing ArtsEl PasoTX$15,000
Gamut Theatre Group IncHarrisburgPA$15,000
Grassroots Shakespeare CompanyOremUT$15,000
Great Lakes Theater Festival IncClevelandOH$25,000
Group I Acting Company IncNew YorkNY$25,000
Guthrie Theatre FoundationMinneapolisMN$25,000
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival IncGarrisonNY$25,000
Indianapolis Shakespeare Company IncIndianapolisIN$25,000
Lantern Theater CompanyPhiladelphiaPA$25,000
Marin Shakespeare CompanySan RafaelCA$25,000
Nashville Shakespeare FestivalNashvilleTN$25,000
Oregon Shakespeare Festival AssociationAshlandOR$25,000
Orlando Shakespeare Theater IncOrlandoFL$25,000
Pennsylvania Shakespeare FestivalCenter ValleyPA$25,000
Quintessence Theatre CompanyPhiladelphiaPA$25,000
Regents Of The Univ. Of Co/Univ. Of Co Colorado Springs – TheatreworksColorado SpringsCO$25,000
San Antonio Little Theatre IncSan AntonioTX$25,000
Seattle Shakespeare FestivalSeattleWA$25,000
Shakespeare In DetroitDearbornMI$25,000
Shakespeare TheatreWashingtonDC$25,000
Shakespeare-San FranciscoSan FranciscoCA$25,000
Sweet Tea Shakespeare IncFayettevilleNC$15,000
Tennessee Shakespeare CompanyCordovaTN$25,000
The Neo Political Cowgirls IncEast HamptonNY$20,000
The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm TheatreWarwickRI$25,000
Theatre For A New Audience IncNew YorkNY$25,000