Transforming Our Theatres Appeal boost

29 April 2010

We really will be able to bring audiences closer to the actors in this amazing new space

Royal Shakespeare Company announces £5.5m left to raise to reach £112.8m target for the Transforming Our Theatres Appeal.

•£107.3m raised so far
•£3.6m donated by three major donors and new theatre spaces named in recognition of their gifts
•We're Coming Home - new film trailer released, recreating audio from memorable RSC performances
•10,000 people support the Appeal from 49 different countries.
With one year to go before its Transforming Our Theatres Appeal closes, the RSC announces it has only £5.5m left to raise to reach its £112.8m goal. The Company also announces charitable gifts totalling £3.6m from the Garfield Weston Foundation (£2m), the PACCAR Foundation (£1m) and the Michigan-based Kresge Foundation ($1m). In recognition of their donations, the RSC will name the new theatre square, Weston Square, and the new exhibition space, the PACCAR Room.

A total of £107.3m has now been raised, including £34.3m from charitable trusts and foundations and individual donors. As well as the major donors who have supported the Appeal, over £1.1m has been contributed by the public. 10,000 people from 49 countries have already given to Appeal initiatives, including ticket top-ups, the Take Your Seat appeal, supported by David Tennant, and the 'sponsor a brick' scheme, championed by Sir Patrick Stewart. Other valued support includes an additional £3m from the National Lottery via Arts Council England, taking their total contribution to £53m, and £20m from Advantage West Midlands.

Today, a new campaign film, We're Coming Home, goes live on www.rsc.org.uk/transformation inviting people to play their part in helping the RSC secure the remaining £5.5m.

The film has been created by RSC actor-turned-film-director, Chris McGill, and has involved over 160 Warwickshire volunteers who stepped into costumes to create the crowd scene. RSC alumni have also helped by recreating audio clips from some of their most memorable RSC performances. They have included Sir Antony Sher (Richard III), Alan Howard (Henry IV, Part II), David Warner (Hamlet), Janet Suzman (Antony and Cleopatra), Chuk Iwuji (Henry VI) and, most recently, Joe Dixon (A Midsummer Night's Dream) and Jonathan Slinger as Richard II.

The Transformation will create a new home for the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon. At its heart is the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a new thrust stage auditorium which brings the audience much closer to the action on stage. The project will improve public spaces inside and outside the theatre to create a welcoming place for visitors, including a new Theatre Tower with viewing platform, a colonnade which links the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres for the first time, better facilities for artists and audiences alike, a rooftop restaurant, and a riverside café and walkway.

Weston Square
The new theatre square, which helps connect the theatre to the town, will be named Weston Square in recognition of the Weston Foundation's £2m gift to the Campaign. The RSC has a 20-year relationship with the Weston Foundation, which has supported a number of projects, including the RSC Ensemble and actor training through the Artists' Development Programme.


PACCAR Room
The main new exhibition space inside the theatre will be named the PACCAR Room, in recognition of a £1m gift from PACCAR Foundation Europe. In this space, the RSC will commission and develop an exhibition programme to attract new audiences. The exhibitions will be linked to the Company's repertoire and ongoing programme including work with contemporary artists and communities new to the RSC.

Mr. Mark Pigott OBE, PACCAR Chairman and member of the RSC America Board, said: 'The history and the future of the Royal Shakespeare Company are of great importance to me. It is a pleasure to support their new home and their leadership in the area of digital technology and audience engagement. The creative connection between the performing arts and the rapidly changing digital medium has great potential to enhance the experience of RSC visitors.'

Kresge Foundation
The Michigan-based Kresge Foundation has boosted the appeal with a gift of $1m (£625,000), which will be paid on completion of the campaign. In this way the Kresge gift will leverage additional donations to help the RSC reach its goal. Set up in 1924 by Sebastian Spering Kresge, the foundation promotes 'human progress' through the support of fundraising campaigns to build capital projects such as libraries, hospitals, schools and museums.

These gifts continue the long history of American backing for the theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon from the 1879 Memorial Theatre to present day. John D. Rockefeller generously supported the building of the 1932 theatre 'in recognition of the debt Great Britain and the United States in common owe to Shakespeare for all that he has meant to the millions of people in both countries whose lives have been enriched and inspired by his genius.' And the Swan Theatre, created from the shell of the 1879 Memorial Theatre, was made possible through funds donated by US philanthropist, Frederick Koch.

Public Appeal
People from all walks of life have lent their support to the Appeal, making donations from ten pence to thousands of pounds.

Warwickshire-based donor, Stan Mills, has sponsored a brick in memory of his late wife, Philippa. He said: 'I've been coming to see shows at the RSC since I was at school. 22 years ago my wife and I made the decision to move to the area, so Warwickshire and Stratford hold very special memories for me. It's such a beautiful part of the country, and moving here meant the RSC was on our doorstep, which is wonderful. I've just retired, and had intended to move to Devon, but I've decided to stay put. There's just so much to keep me here. I really love what's happening in Stratford and what the RSC is doing with its theatres. By sponsoring a brick I'm pleased to be playing a part in the future of the RSC, which has brought me so much pleasure'.

Susie Sainsbury, Deputy Chairman, RSC and Chairman of the RSC's Transformation project committee, said: 'I have been thrilled to watch the new theatre taking shape over the last three years. We have managed to keep the history and the ghosts, whilst improving so much about the building. I am very proud of what we've achieved so far and hugely grateful to everybody who has played a part in making this a reality. We really will be able to bring audiences closer to the actors in this amazing new space and I can't wait for the moment we come home, when we are ready to welcome people into the new theatre'.

Vikki Heywood, RSC Executive Director, said: 'We are overwhelmed by the level of support for the Appeal and it illustrates the passion and interest people have in the Company and the work of Shakespeare. I want to thank everybody who has taken the time to get involved and help us to get one step closer to our £112.8 million target, particularly the Arts Council and Advantage West Midlands, the Gatsby Foundation, and the Weston, PACCAR and Kresge Foundations. Fundraising is a tough job, particularly in the recent economic climate, but I'm confident that we will get there with the help of our audience and supporters.

'The project is on time and on budget and we're looking forward to welcoming people into the building in November when we will open the doors for a series of preview events and activities to help us test the space. The Appeal will close next April when we will also be celebrating our 50th birthday'.

To view the trailer and find out more about the Appeal and how people can get involved visit www.rsc.org.uk/transformation


Ends


More information
For more information contact Jane Ellis on 01789 412 668 or jane.ellis@rsc.org.uk or Philippa Harland on 0207 845 0512 or philippa.harland@rsc.org.uk


Notes to Editors

Opening of the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres
November/December – the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres open their doors with a series of preview events and activities to test the spaces.

February 2011 – the first full productions reopen the RST and Swan Theatre, when the current ensemble returns from London's Roundhouse to revive shows from our current repertoire, allowing us to further test the spaces.

April 2011 – new productions in the RST and Swan Theatre open to coincide with the RSC's 50th anniversary.

Garfield Weston Foundation
The Garfield Weston Foundation was established in 1958 by Willard Garfield Weston, a Canadian businessman who arrived in the UK with his family in 1932. He was the creator of Associated British Foods and the Foundation was endowed with the donation of family-owned company shares. The Foundation extensively supports many educational, heritage and cultural projects across the UK.

PACCAR Foundation
The PACCAR Foundation is a private foundation formed in 1951. The Foundation usually directs its grants to organizations in those communities within the service area of a significant PACCAR presence, such as a factory or a major office. The Paccar Foundation has generously supported many of the UK's leading education, arts, and social service organisations, including The British Library, St. Paul's Cathedral, Cancer Research UK, and University of Cambridge.

PACCAR Inc (www.paccar.com) is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture and customer support of high-quality light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt and DAF nameplates. It also provides financial services and information technology and after-market support for its customers worldwide.

Kresge Foundation
The Kresge Foundation is a Michigan-based $2.8 billion private, national foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations in six fields of interest: health, the environment, community development, arts and culture, education and human services.

Campaign totals: Arts Council England and the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands have contributed £73m in total to the campaign, with the remaining £34.3m raised from charitable trusts and foundations and individual donors. To date, the campaign has achieved £107.3m with £5.5m left to go to reach the £112.8m target.

Countries where donors are from include: United Kingdom, USA, Australia, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Japan, France, Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, Bermuda, Brazil, Finland, Hong Kong, Norway, Singapore, Channel Islands, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Argentina, Bulgaria, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Ghana, India, Isle Of Man, Monaco, Malta, Oman, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Turkey, Slovenia, Yemen, South Korea.

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