National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman Announces 2011-2012 Shakespeare for A New Generation Grants

Washington, DC – The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) today announced that 36 nonprofit, professional theater companies in 21 states plus the District of Columbia will receive grants of $25,000 each to participate in Shakespeare for a New Generation. Projects will take place between June 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012.  Part of the NEA's Shakespeare in American Communities initiative, Shakespeare for a New Generation introduces middle and high school students to the power of live theater and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare. Managed by Arts Midwest, the program has benefitted more than 1.5 million students and their teachers with live performances and educational activities since the program began in 2003.

"Seeing a live performance of Shakespeare is a vastly different, more relevant and powerful experience than reading his words alone," said Chairman Landesman. "I'm pleased that the NEA is able to support these projects that connect young people in a vivid and meaningful way to the great plays of Shakespeare."

Each of the 36 participating companies will present productions of Shakespeare plays with accompanying educational activities to at least 10 schools.  Activities may also include in-school residencies, workshops, or post-performance discussions.

Some of the projects for the 2011-2012 season are:

  • American Players Theatre (Spring Green, Wisconsin) will offer student matinees of either The Taming of the Shrew or The Tempest by partnering with hundreds of schools in over 30 counties in Wisconsin and bordering states.
  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR) will present performances of four Shakespeare plays: Julius Caesar, Henry IV: Part Two, Love's Labor's Lost, and Romeo and Juliet, for underserved Oregon and California schools spanning a distance of 500 miles.
  • PlayMakers Repertory Company (Chapel Hill, NC) will present three of Shakespeare's greatest histories: Henry IV: Part One and Two, and Henry Vin rotating repertory. The company will provide ticket subsidies for underserved schools, offer classroom materials, have teaching artists visit all schools, and, provide a weekend seminar for teachers.

Please see the complete list of the 36 companies that have been selected to participate in Shakespeare for a New Generation for 2011-2012.

To date, more than 80 of the nation's theater companies have taken part in the NEA's Shakespeare program since its inception and participating theater companies have presented performances at 5,500 schools in 2,600 communities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

To enhance the educational impact of Shakespeare for a New Generation, the NEA also has developed free, multimedia educational resource kits. To date, nearly 85,000 toolkits have been distributed to classroom teachers. Included in the kits are a teacher's guide with lesson plans, a recitation contest guide, a "Fun with Shakespeare" brochure with word games and trivia, a timeline poster, a CD, and two educational DVDs.  These resources can be ordered free of charge from the Shakespeare in American Communities web site.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. For more information, visit


Victoria Hutter