MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery will soon begin making renovations and repairs to their building after Governor Kay Ivey awarded the institution $5 million in grants.
The money is a portion of the over $298 million Gov. Ivey awarded to 20 different Public School and College Authority (PSCA) projects across the state Thursday.
The over $298 million comes from SB 242, which authorized the selling of bonds by the state. The PSCA Bond issue was established with the intent on tackling long-standing school infrastructure projects and educational upgrades.
“We are very glad that the Alabama Shakespeare Festival was able to get a part of this fund money to make sure that some needed repairs to the building were done,” said State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey, a member of the PSCA.
ASF Executive Director Todd Schmidt said they are grateful for the support from Gov. Ivey and the legislature for investing in their institution.
“On behalf of the staff, the artists, and the board of directors, we want to thank the governor and the legislature for approving this bond issue,” Schmidt said. “It’s a great show of support for this cultural institution that is so unique to the River Region and the state of Alabama.”
ASF said they plan to use the money to update their technology and make building repairs.
“This money is for capital improvements, and since this building was built in 1985, as you can imagine, there is a lot of things that need to be updated,” Schmidt said. “The seats in the theater, the carpeting. We’ve got a lot of window leaks. We’ve got a lot of wood rot. We’ve just got a lot of maintenance issues and capital improvement needs.”
Every year, over 40,000 students across Alabama attend ASF performances. Over 1.5 million students have visited ASF since they first opened in Montgomery in 1985.
“I think we are part of the education bond issue because of the great work we do for children throughout the state,” Schmidt said. “We look at ourselves as a great teaching institution as well as a great performing arts institution.”
ASF has been closed since March due to COVID-19. Schmidt said the money couldn’t have come at a better time.
“We have lost all of our earned income, we have no ticket sales, and we have no performances because of the pandemic,” Schmidt said. “The arts across this country have been decimated and ASF is in no different state. We are strong we are going to be here, and we are going to make it through this pandemic. This $5 million shows the support of the Governor and the legislature for this great institution.”
“It is really important for our K-12 students that the Shakespeare Festival stay in operation,” Mackey said. “Many of our students go to the Shakespeare festival from all across the state and for many of them it is their only, or first, introduction to professional theater. We want to make sure that they weather this pandemic and come out on the other side.”
A date for when renovations to ASF will begin has not yet been determined.