Major boost for fundraising appeal
£3.6 million gift to Transforming Our Theatres Appeal
With one year to go before our Transforming Our Theatres Appeal closes, we now have just £5.5m left to raise to reach our £112.8m goal. Charitable gifts totalling £3.6m have been made from the Garfield Weston Foundation (£2m), the PACCAR Foundation (£1m) and the Michigan-based Kresge Foundation ($1m). In recognition of their donations, the new theatre square will be called the 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 given to Appeal initiatives, including ticket top-ups, the Take Your Seat appeal, supported by David Tennant, and the ‘sponsor a brick’ initiative, 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.
View our new trailer
Our new campaign film, We’re Coming Home, is now live on www.rsc.org.uk/transformation inviting people to play their part in helping us secure the remaining £5.5m.
The film has been created by RSC actor-turned-film-producer, Chris McGill, and has involved over 100 local 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 include 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.
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. We have 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.
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 we will commission and develop an exhibition programme to attract new audiences. The exhibitions will be linked to our repertoire and ongoing programme and will work with contemporary 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 is 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.’
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 us reach our 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.
The gift continues the long history of American support for the theatres in Stratford-upon-Avon from the 1879 Memorial Theatre to present day. This includes Rockefeller’s generous support to help build 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.’
People from all walks of life have lent their support to the Appeal, making donations from 10p 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 has 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’.
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, 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 find out how you can get involved visit www.rsc.org.uk/appeal