TOWNSPEOPLE can still get involved in this year’s Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations.
The Friends of Shakespeare’s Celebrations was launched last October with the aim of safeguarding the future of the annual celebrations – including plans for the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death next year.
Currently costs total around £100,000 – taking into account staging, project management, and future development costs – but the aim is to make the event self-financing within four years.
Spearheaded by the district and town council, the venture has the backing of the likes of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the RSC, the Shakespeare Birthday Company, Stratford Town Trust, Holy Trinity Church, KES, and Stratforward.
Dame Judi Dench, Sir Patrick Stewart, David Bradley, Dame Janet Suzman and Professor Stanley Wells have all signed up to be patrons of the celebrations while acclaimed Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh has been lined up to appear at the Shakespeare Birthday Lunch where he will receive this year’s Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Award.
And organisers are reminding residents and businesses it is not too late to become part of this year’s – and future – events celebrating the town’s most famous son.
As well as sponsorship opportunities on flags, banners and decorations for the large Shakespeare’s birthday cake – first seen at the celebrations in 2014 and set to reappear this year – organisers are also looking for volunteers to be marshals.
Businesses can also still sign up to be involved in Shakespeare’s Birthday shop window cake trail, which was launched for the first time last year.
Val Harris, development manager for Shakespeare’s Celebrations, said: “We are delighted the number of Friends is increasing but we need even more people to join us.
“Whatever your individual skills and experience, whether you live in the town or simply want to be there to lend your support in a practical way, we want to hear from you!
“Every commitment of financial support or time offered is another step on the road to achieving a long-term future for Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations.
“We are looking to establish firm foundations for a huge raft of activities in 2016 when the eyes of the world will once again be focused on Stratford.
“And our work goes on beyond next year to generate an ongoing, sustainable plan to ensure the celebrations are sustainable for future generations.”
The traditional Birthday Celebrations, which date back to 1824, have always been held in Stratford on the Saturday closest to April 23 – the Bard’s believed birthday, and also the date of his death.
The focal point is the Birthday Parade, which makes its way from Shakespeare’s Birthplace to his grave at Holy Trinity Church, and is set to take place this year on April 25.
Visit www.shakespearescelebrations.com or call 01789 260645 for further information.