By Isaac Butler
You remember Shakespeare Santa Cruz, right? The classics company killed by complex accounting?
If you don't, allow me to refresh your memory: In August, the University of California, Santa Cruz announced quite abruptly that they were pulling the plug on Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the long-running summer classics festival that it plays host to every year. According to UCSC, the festival had been given a chance to get its financial house in order and had failed and now it was time to say goodbye. Without UCSC's funding and the use of UCSC's space, they had to shut their doors.
But the more we learned about the story, the weirder it got. Becuase it turned out that UCSC's subsidy of the company went onto the company's books-- books held and privatly managed by the University-- as debt, with all of their other contributions and ticket sales counting against that debt. And then it turned out that University was also charging the festival rent to use its spaces.
In other words, it began to seem like a lousy business model foisted on the theater company by the University is what killed it.
Well, now it seems like Shakespeare Santa Cruz is hoping to come back, under the new name Shakespeare Play On:
It's now officially incorporated as a nonprofit theater company, under the name Shakespeare Play On, and — committee chair and past SSC board chair Bill Richter reports — has acquired a fiscal sponsor, the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County.
That’s important, because it means the new group can start accepting tax-deductible donations toward its first season. Play On has set itself the goal of raising $885,000 by Jan. 15, so it can begin contracting actors and other artists and artisans for the 2014 season. Richter also reports that it’s already a quarter of the way to that goal. Donations can be sent to Play On through the Arts Council. Once the target goal is reached, any additional funds will be rolled over for the 2015 season.