Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Midsummer Night's Dream Deferred?

(Correction and apology: In the below post I said that Josiah Spaulding has received an "ever increasing salary." Not true. I have received information that he has recently taken a significant pay cut.)

Over the last couple of days we have received news of the abbreviated Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's run of Midsummer.

While the city is citing their renovations of Boston Common as the major reason, Geoff Edgers in the Globe reported that the new sponsor, Citicorp, has decided that the schedule may perpetually be shortened to cut costs:

Josiah A. Spaulding Jr. , president and CEO of the Citi Center, said last year's 18-show run of "The Taming of the Shrew" was too big and, at more than $800,000, cost too much to produce. He couldn't raise enough money to offset those costs last year, he said.

"It's still $500,000 of free Shakespeare," said Spaulding yesterday by phone of this summer's production.

It's funny that Josiah Spaulding should use that 500K number since, rounded down, it is the amount of his yearly salary. Yes, Spaulding is quite famous for making comments about the costs of artistic endeavours while collecting an ever increasing paycheck for his administrative skills. ($504,000 as of 2005 according to the Wang Tax Returns.)

The Commonwealth Shakespeare productions are major cultural events that draws over 100,000 people to see free Shakespeare. That a President and CEO of a major non-profit, (who is supposedly worth 500 large,) cannot raise the money to offset the costs of a production which is taken advantage of by all ends of the social strata, is something that bears looking into.

Not to mention, as the article points out, Citigroup, paid millions for the naming rights.

Yes, part of me is terrified that they will start to go to some type of paid seating structure where we wait in lines.

And if you think I am picking on Mr. Spaulding, I will admit that I see my own culpability and I just made a small donation to Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. And if you are reading this, I encourage you to do the same.

Unless, of course, you want to start seeing this type of thing.

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