Thursday, April 25, 2024

American Globa Center Requests an Audience with the Stratford Town Council

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By Tom Edward Evans
Executive Director
American Globe Center

The American Globe Center (AGC), a not-for-profit led by Stratford resident Tom Edmond Evans and his producing partner Jim Warren, proposes to build the world’s only timber frame re-creation of Shakespeare’s 1614 Globe on the former American Shakespeare Festival property, coupled with a state-of-the-art performing arts and education facility, known as the Stratford Playhouse. Their proposal is designed to infuse Stratford with cultural tourism dollars, approximately $30-50 million annually, while also providing free and low-cost arts education to the students of Stratford to combat ongoing educational budget cuts.

The Stratford Mayor and Town Council recently discussed a proposal to work with DTC, an engineering consulting firm, to provide infrastructure for Shakespeare Park, a food truck court, a seasonal bandshell, and a small black box theatre. The AGC has addressed the proposal for the property on social media and in regional press.

Warren, the AGC Artistic Director, laid out the Center’s position, “We applaud the Mayor and Town Council for proposing a plan for the property. We feel, however, that the town deserves an opportunity to compare the Mayor’s plan to our plan for the American Globe Center.”

Evans, Executive Director of the AGC, emphasized the people of Stratford’s right to consider additional proposals. “We respectfully continue to request that the Stratford Town Council provide an audience for the AGC plan.” Evans compared the two proposals, “The AGC plan requires zero town taxpayer dollars, whereas the Mayor’s plan will be in part taxpayer-funded. The only facilities in the Mayor’s proposal are an outdoor amphitheater and a small black box theatre. The AGC proposal also includes both of those performance spaces in addition to a timber frame re-creation of Shakespeare’s 1614 Globe and a modern performing arts and education center with a visual arts gallery space.”

“The AGC proposal will bring visitors to Stratford and drive economic revenue into the town,” said Warren. “The Globe building itself will be a regional, national, and international tourist attraction, not just another venue for performances.”

The Mayor’s current plan could come at a municipal cost funded by the taxpayers every year. This point was reinforced by Jason A. Young, AGC Director of Outreach and Engagement, “I’ve made a career of running municipally owned theatres and performing arts programs – while they are of tremendous value to a city, they can also be a very expensive operation at budget time each year. Having a private entity own and operate the theatre allows all the advantages and none of the tax burden for the people of the town.”

Elizabeth Saint, AGC Board Member and Stratford resident, summed up the Center’s position, “As businesspeople, makers of art, and people who live in Stratford, we believe it is the fiduciary responsibility of the Town Council to review and understand the American Globe Center plan thoroughly. Let us address concerns and have frank conversations. What the AGC envisions for Stratford is truly life changing. Rather than saying ‘Stratford is no Greenwich,’ our plan will have people from Greenwich eager to come to Stratford and spend in our amazing restaurants, shops, and other businesses. We must have those conversations and not sell ourselves short. Stratford, Ontario was just a small suburban town, and their Shakespeare campus brought in $90 million in revenue to their community in 2022. The AGC’s proposal could bring that amount of growth to Stratford, CT.”

About the American Globe Center
The American Globe Center (AGC) is headquartered in Stratford. The group has gained support for their proposal of a new project at the site of the historic American Shakespeare Theatre. The Theatre, built in 1955 as home to the American Shakespeare Festival, ceased full-time operation in 1989 and was lost to arson in January of 2019.

The American Globe Center is led by Stratford resident Tom Edmond Evans, and his producing partner and Artistic Director, Jim Warren, founder and former Artistic Director of the American Shakespeare Center and the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA. The AGC proposes to build the word’s only timber frame re-creation of Shakespeare’s 1614 Globe on the site, coupled with a state-of-the-art performing arts and education center, known as the Stratford Playhouse. The Playhouse will contain a large, modern, indoor theatre and will present a mix of modern musicals and plays, classical and new works, and other live events. The performance and education complex will also contain a visual arts gallery, a small black box theatre, indoor-outdoor event space, and rehearsal/classroom spaces available for use by the community groups.

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