For those of you who heard the speech before the Julius Caesar performances about us paying to perform in Wichita, here’s a little background information:
We offer these performances as a service to you for free, but our costs are not zero. Your donations are very important to us, and we want to be good stewards of those donations. You may not realize that there is a yearly fee paid by us to reserve the parks in Wichita. We’re trying to change that.
Since 2004, the Wichita Shakespeare Company has appreciated and benefitted greatly from the sponsorship (i.e., waiver of the park department special event fees) that we received from the Wichita Parks and Recreation Department. In return, we have put on all of our press releases, programs, and posters that we are “Sponsored By Wichita Parks and Recreation.” This sponsorship has allowed us to continue to bring free Shakespeare-in-the-Park performances to Wichita city parks. As part of our non-profit charter, Wichita Shakespeare Company produces Shakespeare for no admission fee. This is an essential part of our mission statement.
In 2011, this sponsorship ended. We received a phone message from the Wichita Parks and Recreation department in April of 2011. The parks department wanted to charge us $1450.00 for “Taming of the Shrew” and “Troilus and Cressida” performances in the Wichita parks. The message stated this is the cheapest they could offer.
After debating whether or not to perform in Wichita at all (minus the previously-planned special Riverfest performance), we ended up negotiating a fee of $300 per year. This was for five June performances, and five September performances, and we paid it in 2011 and 2012. The fee guarantees that the Parks Department will have the grass mowed fairly recently and that the trash is picked up and trash cans are empty, for the most part. The fee does not guarantee that the spaces we normally use will be available, as the parks are “first come, first served” regardless of fees paid.
The negotiated $300 fee to perform in Wichita parks ends up being a fourth to one half of our annual budget, depending on the donations we receive in the season. This situation has happened once before: for several years Wichita Shakespeare Company had to find alternate venues in order to be able to continue providing this service to the people of Wichita.
Help us by letting your city council member know how important free Shakespeare in the Park is to you in Wichita. Contact information is provided below.
If you have any questions about this situation, please do not hesitate to let us know by messaging us on Facebook:
Karen Holmes (Superintendent – Recreation) – KHolmes@wichita.gov
David McGuire (Superintendent – Forestry and Maintenance) – DMcGuire@wichita.gov
Lavonta Williams, City Council, District 1 – LKWilliams@wichita.gov
District 1 Map
Pete Meitzner, City Council, District 2 – PMeitzner@wichita.gov
District 2 Map
James Clendenin, City Council, District 3 – JClendenin@wichita.gov
District 3 Map
Michael O’Donnell II, City Council, District 4 – MODonnell@wichita.gov
District 4 Map
Jeff Longwell, City Council, District 5 – JLongwell@wichita.gov
District 5 Map
Janet Miller, City Council, District 6 – JLMiller@wichita.gov
District 6 Map