By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
STAUNTON — In mid-March, the American Shakespeare Center marked its one-year anniversary since the COVID-19 pandemic partially closed the curtain on live productions and activities.
The center began a campaign to raise funds to stay open for 2021, and has raised 60 percent of its $200,000 goal.
“It will mean we will be able to keep all of the actors and staff employed,” said Kelly Burdick, the center’s director of communications of the fundraising goal, which would enable the center to continue to bring entertainment to the community for the 2021 season.
The fundraising goal is the center’s need in “our last stand against COVID.”
“Because of social distancing, we’re limited in the number of seats we can sell [to a live audience],” Burdick said.
Until now, the center has put out emails requesting donations and tracked the funds raised on its Facebook page. Photos were posted after a certain number of donations allowed the center to “turn on the lights” in each room.
On Sunday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m. a livestream event from the Blackfriars Playhouse will be another fundraising event for the center.
“We’ll have some speeches and songs from the season,” Burdick said.
Actors will light candles on stage in honor of the hope of turning the lights back on in the American Shakespeare Center and having a full theater of audience members attend.
A link to Sunday’s livestream event will be available on Facebook.
Burdick said the American Shakespeare Center is grateful to the community for its support so far.
The COVID-19 pandemic took away the “fundamental ability” of the arts to gather.
“We would not be here without the generosity of our community,” Burdick said.
Donations may be made at www.americanshakespearecenter.com.