An urgent appeal has gone out to save the annual Cambridge Shakespeare Festival.
The melancholy Jaques says “all the world’s a stage” in William Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
However, this year’s Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, which stages plays in college gardens throughout the summer, will not be taking place.
The much-loved festival has become the latest casualty to fall prey to the COVID-19 pandemic, as in line with Government advice, this year’s performances have been cancelled.
An urgent appeal has now gone out to safeguard the festival’s future.
Remarkably in its 33rd year, and attracting upwards of 30,000 visitors, the summer is punctuated by actors in full Elizabethan costume strolling through the city’s streets.
But the festival is now in real danger of never returning, as the cancellation has financially damaged the event to such an extent that it seems unlikely it can recover without some serious input from its many supporters.
Artistic director Dr David Crilly has personally underwritten the festival throughout its existence.
He said: “Our income stream ended at the close of the festival in August 2019.
“We won’t receive anything from ticket sales until June 2021, which means we must try to survive for 22 months without any income. Like any other going concern, we still have bills to pay – for offices, warehouse storage, vehicles, insurance, costume storage, repair and maintenance etc.”
He added that in addition to things “ticking over”, there are the start-up costs associated with each year’s festival.
In total, the costs of putting on the festival are well in excess of £200,000 and much of that is recouped in ticket sales.
But there are significant bills to pay in order to get the festival up and running in the first place, well before tickets go on sale.
The Shakespeare Festival has survived for over three decades without any Arts Council funding, or indeed any external funding whatsoever, surviving in no small measure due to the hard work and dedication of the festival team.
Organisers have established a Crowdfunding appeal, which appropriately went live on June 21 – Midsummer’s night.
The festival needs at least £50,000 in order to survive into 2021.