Thanks to the community fundraisers
Projects have played a role in keeping the Globe afloat
“Covid-19 presents the greatest threat to the future of Shakespeare’s Globe since our opening in 1997.” A letter to a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee in May made clear that the Globe would not survive without financial support after the loss of income streams due to the public health crisis.
In July, the government responded to arts organisations in critical need, including the Globe, but among those to also answer the call for help were members of the public, who have raised over £18,000 for the theatre this summer through a range of crowdfunding initiatives.
From an online gaming marathon to an 80-play festival of new writing via Zoom, these projects have had no input from the theatre itself, and are, says Charlotte Wren, who heads its revenue fundraising, “unprecedented” in its history. A 48-hour online reading of Shakespeare plays, for instance, called Read For The Globe, was organised by alumni of the Shakespeare Studies MA run by the Globe and King’s College London and raised more than £13,000.
Four actors – sometime Globe audience members but not ensemble players – were isolating together in the countryside and staged a socially distanced performance of Tom Stoppard’s radio play, On Dover Beach, in a local field. The small audience donated what they could. Students from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) found ways to support budding actors as well as the Globe. Alumni of last year’s Sam Wanamaker Festival created films over three days in June for the Wanamaker Difference? initiative, which is still online and raising money. LIPA students Hannah Roze-Lewis and Elissa Cooper, who missed out on the 2020 Sam Wanamaker Festival, staged a Shakespeare Solstice with songs, sonnets and soliloquy performances via Zoom over an August night.
“Working long hours with a bunch of inspiring colleagues to create something I was proud to be a part of. It all feels so removed from the world we currently find ourselves in,” writes composer Ellie Wilson, who created music for the 2019-20 productions of Henry VI and Richard III. With musicians and actors from the productions, she releases a specially created EP this November featuring incidental music and speeches from the plays, with all proceeds going to the Globe.
“It’s been so incredible. Every week it seemed like somebody else coming through with a new campaign to help support the Globe,” says Wren. She thinks these initiatives reveal something about the strength of the Globe’s community and how much it means to them. “People feel a very personal relationship to the Globe. When you stand or sit in the theatre, you feel connected with the work. You don’t sit in a dark auditorium, you are a vital part of the performance.” While in touch with the team behind On Dover Beach, she felt for them it was particularly poignant. They said: “We put on a fundraising event for the Globe Theatre, a cause which is very close to our hearts… We wish you all the best, and are looking forward to the day when we can be groundlings again – we are sure that the Globe will rise up again in all its uniqueness and greatness, the world can’t live without it!”
‘These initiatives reveal something about the strength of the Globe’s community.’
Over 80% of the Globe workforce has been on furlough since March, with remaining staff working against “a bleak” backdrop, says Wren. “These projects have just been wonderful in terms of their support for the organisation, but also for staff morale. It’s been exceptionally important and powerful, and really helped us think, ‘We’ve got to keep going’.”