Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Shakespeare Festival set to relocate

Sun Valley approves $23,600 grant to assist move

Express Staff Writer

As the old adage states: The show must go on. After receiving a $23,600 grant from the city of Sun Valley, the Sun Valley Shakespeare Festival is a go and will run between Aug. 23 and Sept. 2 in Sun Valley's Festival Meadows.

The grant is a one-time payment that will come out of the city's "contingency fund" to assist the festival's relocation of its entire event to the city-owned Festival Meadows for the foreseeable future, said Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson.

In 2005, after outgrowing the Ketchum Forest Service Park, the nexStage Theatre moved the Renaissance Faire portion of the event to Festival Meadows. This year, the two phases of the event will both be in Festival Meadows, next to Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church.

The festival, produced by the Sun Valley Performing Arts Center/nexStage Theatre, has been an ongoing event in the valley for the past seven years. It features the Shakespeare play "Much Ado About Nothing" and a Renaissance Faire, complete with jousting and other Renaissance activities.

The lion's share of the budget covers the cost of relocating, including the grading of a small portion of Festival Meadows and the construction of the stage theatre. The festival initially requested $25,600.

"We recognize the need to keep the Festival Meadows 'undeveloped' at this time," said Kathy Wygle, managing director of the Sun Valley Performing Arts Center/nexStage Theatre. "Our set would not be permanent, but solidly built and able to be dismantled and stored for use in years to come."

The only portion of the budget the City Council pared down was the $2,000 the festival requested for marketing.

"That's the only thing that uncomfortable to me," Thorson said. "We're paying you for paid advertising."

"We didn't think we should pay for promotion," Thorson added. "They are a non-profit ... I felt they should approach the papers and have some articles written."

Thorson said most grant requests are small, less than $5,000, and do not include a marketing budget. By point of comparison, the YMCA's $50,000 service contract with the city in 2006 did not earmark where money would be spent.

The festival still has details to work out, and the exact layout of Festival Meadows has yet to be determined. The 30-foot by 30-foot graded area where the stage will be built will be reclaimed with pasture grass following the event, said Brad Mitchell, Street Department supervisor and city event coordinator, in a report presented to the council.

"Thank you so much," Wygle said following the grant approval. "We won't let you down."

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