TOWNSPEOPLE are being urged to play their part in the financial future of the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations.
The Friends of Shakespeare’s Celebrations will be launched at Stratford Town Hall on Thursday October 30 where residents and business leaders will hear plans for safeguarding the future of the annual celebrations from next April, and onwards, including plans for the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death in 2016.
Spearheaded by the district and town councils respectively, it will give townspeople and businesses the chance to get involved through a number of sponsorship opportunities – from flags and banners to new decorations for the large Shakespeare’s birthday cake first seen at this year’s celebrations.
Currently the annual cost totals around £100,000, including staging, project management, and future development costs but the aim is to make the event self-financing within four years.
Stratford Mayor, Coun Ian Fradgley said: “We are at a significant turning point, in terms of deciding how we continue to pay tribute to the global figure who makes our town a unique place in which to live and work, attracting visitors from around the world.
“The Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebrations are also part of our local heritage that generations from the local community have cherished memories of.
“This is why we and our partners want to establish a sustainable plan, one which will benefit the entire town and wider community for years to come.”
The new 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.
Coun Fradgley added: “Community ownership of the event going forward is key. Its future depends equally on corporate donors offering sponsorship and local people giving their valuable time as volunteer parade stewards or marshals on the day.”
And district tourism spokesman Coun Maurice Howse said it was an important step for the future of the celebrations.
He added: “It is not only a matter of pride in our town and its unique heritage, but we must preserve it for future generations.
“Shakespeare’s Celebrations’ Partners are committed to ensuring that our amazing legacy continues to benefit Stratford’s community and the local economy far into the future by helping Stratford’s Shakespeare’s Birthday celebrations become entirely self-financing and independent of public subsidy.”
The traditional Birthday Celebrations, which date back to 1824, have always been held in Stratford on the Saturday closest to April 23 – what is believed to be the Bard’s birthday, and coincidently also the date of his death.
The focal point of the day is the Birthday Parade, which makes its way from Shakespeare’s Birthplace to his grave at Holy Trinity Church.
Invitations are currently being issued for the Shakespeare’s Celebrations launch, and there are a limited number of places available to interested members of the community.
Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. To apply email [email protected] for further information. The launch starts at 6.30pm.
Townspeople are being urged to play their part in safeguarding the future of the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations. 18.09.014. strat.nc16