KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO
Members of Northeast Stage, rehearsing at Mitchell Park Tuesday
night for their August productions of
Northeast Stage of Greenport, which presents an annual Shakespeare in the Park production in Mitchell Park, is in the midst of an effort to raise money in what it calls “an 11th-hour rescue” of this summer’s production of “Julius Caesar.” The play is set to be performed at the harborfront park Aug. 6, 7 and 8.
“There will be Shakespeare in the Park,” said Jere Jacob, one of the group’s members, despite the group’s ominous name for its recent fund drive.
“For sure, it’s going to happen; for sure it’s going to happen in the park even if we need to dip into our reserves,” she said. The group has discussed moving the production indoors to avoid the need for the expensive sound system required to stage productions in the park. That alone runs several thousand dollars, Ms. Jacob said.
With a major contribution from Roy Morrow of Greenport and many donations from community members responding to a recent e-mail appeal, the group was about $3,500 short of covering the costs of the production this week, according to director Amanda Newcomer. The cost of this year’s production is expected to be a little less than $9,000, group member Amie Sponza said. Productions used to cost between $10,000 and $11,000 but have undergone a belt tightening.
As with many artistic groups, Northeast Stage faced the loss of both government grants and corporate philanthropic contributions this year because of the floundering economy. People involved in the production who used to get small stipends and travel expenses have had to face cutbacks, Ms. Newcomer said. And in the midst of preparing for one of its most ambitious summer productions, the organization has had to focus on fundraising.
Northeast Stage’s fundraising campaign involved e-mailing potential donors with an attached letter for them to sign and submit to the Greenport Village Board, urging the board to restore its funding next year.
“Now, in the 11th hour as we are weeks away from opening night, the Village of Greenport has decided that after cutting our funding in half last year, they must cut all of it this year,” the unsigned e-mail read.
The village contributed $4,000 to the group in 2008 and cut the stipend in 2009 to $2,000. Only recently, the group of 25 cast and creative team members learned that the village had cut the stipend for this year entirely, Ms. Newcomer said.
She put in the annual request last December and called regularly, speaking with Mayor David Nyce and village clerk Sylvia Pirillo, she said. But neither could promise funding when budget talks had just started, she added.
Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said in January