Shakespeare in American Communities

StageNotes: A Midsummer Night's Dream

Meet Our Lead Sponsor:
Shakespeare in American Communities

By Antay Bilgutay, Director of Development

As Hartford Stage prepares to launch A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we are proud to have the support of Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Shakespeare in American Communities supports high-quality, professional productions of Shakespeare’s plays and related educational activities for middle- and high-school students in underserved schools throughout the United States. Up to 40 theatres are selected through a competitive process each year. The 2017-18 season marks the eighth time Hartford Stage has participated in this vital program.

Although most schools across the country require reading a Shakespeare play, many students never have the opportunity to see the Bard’s plays performed, as they were meant to be experienced. With five matinee performances of Midsummer, Hartford Stage will introduce Shakespeare’s lush language and beguiling characters to nearly 2,500 students from 36 schools, many of whom will be seeing live theatre for the first time. Teens from low- to moderate income families will see the play at no cost and participate in pre- and post-show activities to deepen their understanding of it.

Arts Midwest is one of six regional arts organizations that partner with local, state and federal agencies to develop and deliver programs to advance the arts. They present and sponsor performances and exhibitions seen by more than a million people annually throughout the Midwest and around the world. According to Christy Dickinson, Senior Program Director at Arts Midwest, “Shakespeare’s work is an important part of classical literature. Hartford Stage continues to be a great partner in providing reach to underserved students in your community, and it has been wonderful to see how your program has grown and deepened throughout the eight years of support.”

Since the program’s inception in 2003, 108 theater companies across the United States have taken part in Shakespeare in American Communities. Selected companies have presented 33 of Shakespeare’s 37 plays. To date, the program has supported 11,000 performances and more than 37,500 related educational activities at more than 9,400 schools in 4,100 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Here in Connecticut, the program continues to touch the lives of at-risk teens throughout Greater Hartford. Support from the National Endowment for the Arts is essential to its success. If you value the NEA and its positive impact on our community, Hartford Stage encourages you to contact your elected officials and declare your support for this funding. Visit for information on issues related to federal arts funding and action steps you can take to help ensure that NEA continues to thrive.