A Santa Cruz Shakespeare company that has been fighting to raise $300,000 in just 10 days in order to avoid the cancellation of its 2009 season announced today it has exceeded its goal and raised $416,417.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz, a 27-year-old company hosted by the University of California, Santa Cruz Art Division, announced the total on its Web site. The posting contains the simple statement, "We are important."
The group said the fundraising total may increase once all the donations are counted.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz plays feature professional actors, directors and designers and also involve students and student interns. The non-profit company employs a core staff of seven people.
The group faced the cancellation of its 2009 season and perhaps a permanent end if it did not meet the $300,000 mark by noon today, a deadline set by university leaders and the Shakespeare group's staff and directors on Dec. 12.
The university's Art Division has traditionally absorbed the theater group's deficit in the hope it may one day become financially independent, according to theater officials.
However, university cuts related to the state's financial crisis have left Shakespeare Santa Cruz without a fallback and pushed the group into a frenzied fundraising campaign.
The Art Division and chancellor's office have supported the group's efforts and came up with the $300,000 fundraising figure to minimize the impact on the university if a deficit is incurred in 2009.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz's 2008 losses are projected at around $500,000 due to decreased ticket sales and donations, theater officials said. The organization has not profited in several years and had planned a smaller budget for the 2009 season, down to $1.49 million from $2 million in 2008.
Once results of the fundraising efforts were announced today, the theater company's artistic director and board of directors released statements applauding the outpouring of support from the more than 2,050 donors.
"We have been sent a very clear message, and that message is: Theater matters," artistic director Marco Barricelli said in a prepared statement.
"The arts are an important and integral part of our lives, and though times may be difficult, we refuse to live without the inspiration and grace afforded us by great actors, directors, designers, etc.," Barricelli said. "Through them we are able to relish this precious gift of life in ways otherwise impossible."
Shakespeare Santa Cruz's 2009 season is slated to run from mid-July through August and will feature "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Julius Caesar" in the outdoor Festival Glen theater, and "Shipwrecked! An Entertainment - The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself)" in the indoor Mainstage Theater, company officials said.