Bravo Greater Des Moines Evaluation and Activity Report

For 2008/2009 Cultural Enrichment Funding


The purpose of this evaluation and activity report is to collect economic and social impact data that will be shared with supporting communities and civic leaders.  The information will also be used as an educational tool illustrating the activity generated by local organizations.


Organization Name: Iowa Shakespeare Experience 



Please discuss: (attach additional pages if necessary)


1.) Discuss the use of the grant funds.  What was accomplished?


SERVICE TO 25, 350 people in 22 performance events!

35 NEW Creative Economy paid jobs for Artists!


Bravo funds in July at a time almost simultaneous to

the time of year when our outdoor summer Shakespeare shows are in the midst of being staged.

Thus, each year in our Bravo grant application,

we request permission to apply our Bravo grant to the development and implementation 

of programming for the following July.


Therefore, this report provides information on ISE use of Bravo funds from July 2009 to June 2010.  And that particular year has been a truly terrific, “banner” year for The Iowa Shakespeare Experience!  


Bravo funding allowed us to provide for the first time, top-quality, tourism-enhancing programming 

and entertainment to the Metro area entirely FREE OF CHARGE:  

providing free programming across demographics 

to youth, families, Seniors and multi-cultural populations 

precisely at a time when due to the economy, 

free was needed most!



Numeric measures of success




A.) Exceeded Attendance expectations by approximately 66%, serving the better part of 1000 attendees each night of the 6 night Festival!  


  • To put this accomplishment into perspective, consider that the largest Metro venue for local actors to perform in is the Des Moines Playhouse (given that the Civic Center facility is typically used for out-of-town traveling shows.)  These attendance numbers are equivalent to selling out the Playhouse venue TWICE OVER, or selling out another popular theatre venue (Stagewest) about 6 times over!
  • When you add in our total attendance numbers for our other service initiatives, we served an astonishing 25, 350 people in 2009-2010!  
  • The following breaks out our service to 25,350:


  1. Just under 4,000 were served at the Mainstage Fest in Simon Estes
  2. Approximately 16,000 were served via free KFMG Radio plays – 5 one hour plays airing 4-5 times each month over 5 months from March-July.  These plays featured professional actors, music, and special narrative introductions helpful to understanding Shakespeare. 
  3. Approximately 5,000 caught our roving street theatre, which audiences enjoyed at Farmer Market, the Gay Pride Parade, and venues (including on stage) at the Des Moines Arts Festival
  4. We also served an additional 350 youth in targeted youth-specific programs.  At least 200 of these youth met federal standards for poverty qualifications. 


B.) Exceeded our Grant-related income expectations (OTHER THAN BRAVO GRANTS) by approximately 29%This past year, we attracted TWO $25,000 private donations and a variety of donations of over $5,000.   (As Edwina Brandon, former development director of the Des Moines Art Center points out: “Not even the Art Center has that many $25,000 Donors!”.  This is incredible support for a small start up arts organization and speaks to strong public interest in seeing Des Moines start to provide a free, to-scale Shakespeare Festival like so many of our sister cities do. 


C.) Exceeded our service-related mission goals of providing Shakespeare to new audiences – especially audiences who may not have yet been able to access Shakespeare.   Preliminary data shows that approximately 34% of our audience was brand new to Shakespeare!  One reason why this data is important is that by involving new audiences in Shakespeare, many communities find that these new audiences also start to involve themselves in supporting other related art forms, since Shakespeare is related not just to theatre but also to Opera, Symphony, paintings, sculpture, and poetry.  Audiences involved with Shakespeare tend to become more involved in supporting all the other arts a city offers.

Simultaneously, we also met our goals of serving those hungry for the Bard:  

In preliminary data, 40% of our Mainstage Festival attendees at Simon Estes self identify as having had “some” exposure to Shakespeare – and a whopping 26% self identify as “Expert Fans”.  From the latter, the most common comment was to this effect: 

  • “We have been waiting and waiting and WAITING for something like this!”  
  • A similar common comment: “I used to go to this kind of thing when I lived in (Omaha, New York, Chicago, LA, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Iowa City - - -etc) and I have missed having this in Des Moines!”


D.) Generated tourism from at least 29 cities: We proved the axiom that Shakespeare Fests can be tourism generators:  Data shows that at-scale Shakespeare Festivals generate local tourism, especially from a radius of about 90 miles. .  Our data from this past year shows that at the Mainstage Festival in Simon Estes, we drew from 29 cities beyond the Metro, such as Grinnell, Pella, Atlantic, and Oskaloosa.  Also, roughly 30% percent of Mainstage attendees  were from cities (Bravo cities or other cities) other than Des Moines/WDM.  (Data is preliminary)

  • Because an increase in local tourism is one reason why communities invest in Shakespeare, we took our ability to generate tourism serious.  We used a mass press release service to distribute information to the majority of the 150 towns, hamlets and colleges located within the 90 mile radius of the Metro’s Golden Circle. 


E.) Regarding artistic Quality – TWO “Top Ten Iowa” awards! :  The “world-class” level of our artistic quality has now been stringently vetted by formally trained state-level judges- - and we came away with not just one, but TWO Iowa Arts Council awards based on Artistic Excellence and Administrative Capacity.  This puts us TWICE among the “Top Ten” Iowa arts projects in the entire state - - and on one award, we TIED FOR FIRST PLACE! 


F.) Creative Economy Jobs- Created 35!: Regarding our contributions to the Creative Economy:  One of the many reasons communities invest in a Shakespeare Festival is its synergistic effect that incubates job growth in the creative economy.  We created 37 NEW part time paid arts jobs in the Metro in 2009 alone, and if the Festival is truly taken to scale, have the potential to annually create 50-100 new part time jobs each summer.  (The Omaha Festival, for example, annually creates 150 new jobs.)  This is important generally but also, it is very worth noting that many of these jobs are in theatre.  Analysis shows that the scarcity of PAID Metro theatre jobs is one of the reasons why the Metro has yet to develop a tourism-attracting regional theatre such as the “Guthrie” in Minneapolis.  The ISE an important link in the chain needed to redress this issue.  


G;) Regarding Youth Services (served over 350 youth): Although since 2008 we have not again been funded at the levels necessary to provide asset increases as noted below, in 2009 we provided another notable achievement: thanks to Bravo funding in combination with other grants, we were able to increase our traveling Shakespeare Workshop programming by a TEN-fold measure- serving 100% of the local libraries in Des Moines. AND, due to another great Metro Arts Alliance collaboration, we are in the midst of providing additional services to 5 Libraries located throughout the full complement of Bravo 28e cities.  


  • Our 2009-2010 Bravo grant is allowing us to this Spring, increase even that important accomplish by now providing traveling Workshops to Libraries all across the Metro area, an initiative we have been able to stretch by partnering with Metro Arts Alliance to allow full scholarships for some of these programs.  
  • Additionally, vis-à-vis Bravo’s interest in providing “World Class” programs to the Metro, we brought into the Metro the very definition of “World Class” Shakespeare programming.  
    1. In April of 2010, the ISE Co-produced THE oldest national traveling Shakespeare troupe in America (of the White House stage and stages in over 250 countries world-wide) in a FREE show for youth, held at the Central Boys and Girls Club location at Levitt. 
    2. This project alone served over 200 youth, virtually 100% of which manifest with federal poverty level indicators and multiple other indicators of being at-risk.
    3. The Iowa Shakespeare Experience preceded these youth programs with outreach and is in the midst of following up this terrific program by providing on-site workshops to the attending youth.  Workshops are a collaboration with Metro Arts Alliance and will serve another 100 youth yet this Spring and early Summer.  
    4. Workshops are led by one of the state of Iowa’s leading minority artists (MFA from University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop) and are provided with Spanish infusion as applicable.  Several other leading artists of color also assist with implementing workshops.
      • Said one young lady:  “Your name is Sandoval?  Mine is too!  I never met an Artist who was a Sandoval before!”
      • Workshops and curriculum is overseen by a certified teacher licensed in the state of Iowa, possessing multiple specialty certifications in working with At-risk youth.  Former programming led by this teacher with highest-risk youth at Des Moines’ North High school one Iowa’s first federal-level “Exemplary in the Nation” award. 
    5. All students who attend a workshop are given a free VIP pass to bring a group of friends or family to the Festival’s VIP section.  We have had a variety of students take us up on that, including one notable family who really got into the spirit- bringing a home-made candlelabra and a real picnic feast for their whole family! 






Narrative Overview of Major Accomplishments 2009-2010:


We used our $20,000 2009 Bravo award (2 grants each at $10,000) to sustain our organization in its early start-up period by defraying operating costs for 2009-2010; (primarily towards staffing fees for grantwriting, program coordination, youth program development and general administrative needs) and also for defraying approximately $3,000 in overhead for printing, ink, and office supplies).


This use of funds enabled us to:


  • stabilize our new and exciting partnership with the City of Des Moines, which based on the outstanding success of our 2009 Festival, offered The Iowa Shakespeare Experience the significant opportunity to work more closely with the City under City Sponsorship of the festival, and to plan to continue this exciting new partnership we have with the city of Des Moines to present Shakespeare in Simon Estes Amphitheatre downtown on the Riverwalk in July 2010, exponentially extending our mission to new audiences
  • impact the creative economy of the Golden Circle with the creation of new PTE arts positions in our 2009 festival, and also start to create a similar increase in new PTE arts positions in 2010
  • leverage (to the date of this report) $115,000+ in additional income from grants and major donors
  • create three original theatre artworks (one in Spanish, and one featuring an entire storyline told in ballet) premiering in the Golden Circle
  • create 5 original songs for our shows, an accomplishment which earned us a special written commendation to the Des Moines Music Coalition
  • implement a 5 part youth program for the public library serving 100% of the Des Moines Library Branches-, and a 5 part youth program to serve 5 branches throughout all the various Bravo cities.
  • implement two “world premiere” plays and a first-ever appearance of the world-renouned National players in Des Moines
  • implement 45 hours of original Shakespeare radio programs airing to 10,000 across the Golden Circle
  • provided strong collaborative support to area visual artists by creating a free “Grey Market” component, where emerging local designers could display works for sale entirely free of charge on festival grounds


  • implement a signature outdoor Shakespeare Repertory Festival for the Metro – provide TWO full Mainstage shows in repertory to crowds which exceeded attendance expectations by 66%!  


Additionally, in early 2010 we began receiving requests from suburban Bravo cities (specifically Urbandale and the City of Windsor Heights) to bring traveling outreach Shakespeare shows directly to those communities.  Based on funding, we have begun to develop and schedule these shows, the first of which is tentatively schedule for Windsor Heights on July 11 2010.


Detailed Discussion:


Our $20,000 Bravo grant permitted us to defray some $3,000 in basic operational costs such as Xerox, paper, ink and copying costs associated with all the activities below, as well as the creation of $16,000 of pivotal staff time for the following activities:





  • Composing 13 additional grants, 4 of which were successfully funded to date (total amount of $36,000); 4 of which are pending (two 2010 Bravo grants, three 2010 Iowa Arts Council requests, plus a $25,000 State of Iowa ask and $15,000 Polk County request)  


  • Nurturing a start-up base of over 100 donors to the organization, bringing in income of $112,000 from a combination of fundraising special event activities and solicitation of major donors, two of which came from out-of-state at a level of $25,000.  


  • Developing a new database comprised of registrants from the 2009 Festival, thus adding nearly 750 names to our database


  • Developing for the first time, email newsletter capacities for the Festival and sending out our first newsletter to 500 in a “soft send” during early Spring.  In May, we will be sending the e-newsletters to a database of over 3000!


  • Developing, for the first time, a general database for the Festival (an extremely labor intensive ongoing initiative)


  • Engaging in supplemental email marketing capacities, including developing a contract with two email marketing systems (RatePoint and Midwest Tix)


  • Developing an initial website for the Festival as well as an upgraded, redesign of that Website, scheduled to be unveiled in late Spring 2010


  • Participating in the evaluation of the  2009 and the development 2010 Shakespeare Festival


  • Implementing the 2009 Festival and planning for the 2010 Festival that will take place in July 2010 in Simon Estes Amphitheatre


  • Participating in the community collaborations necessary for the Festival and the community activities above to take place, ranging from meetings with Metro Arts Alliance, with the Libraries and with the City of to participation on the Downtown planning Council, East Village planning meetings, and creation of vital organizational documents such as a a full marketing plan and media sponsorship proposals.  We also participated (extensively) in Bravo meetings related to the development of the new cultural plan.  


  • Participating in a continued marketing overhaul of the organization, including integrating the material from a Board-led branding review retreat, the ongoing development of a logo and new poster, graphics and ad material, and finalizing the development of commissioned series of posters for the Festival (from a nationally known local collectible artist) which will leverage Festival attendance into earned income


  • Growing the Board and staffing our Board meetings, including leading the Board through a continued initial examination of start-up by-laws, final adoption of the Iowa Principals and Practices, final adoption of Results Based Accountability,  ongoing examination of mission, and development of Board committees, including leading our first all-Board retreat to kick off phase II of our strategic plan


  • Formal Board Retreat meetings with our Advisory Board and Trustees Board


  • Composing required Reports associated with all activities, from IRS Reports to Grantor Reports


  • Defraying required copying costs, paper and ink costs, and fiscal agency fees associated with these funds and with the mission-centric activities described below


  • Participating in or attending various staff development activities, ranging from trainings provided by the Greater Des Moines Community Foundation and the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute to attending the Crossroads Entertainment conference, various International Festival and Event Seminars, and certain Iowa Arts Council trainings.


  • Implementing 4 special event fundraisers in association with our summer season, plus developing what will become a Board-led signature fundraiser in 2011


  • Implementing, exploring and developing various opportunities for the ISE to become involved with several national Shakespeare-based initiatives (to take our Festival to world-class levels) such as:



-Participating in the “I Geek Shakespeare” national campaign (National Public Library Campaign)

  • The ISE was featured in the national promotions of literacy associated with this national campaign, and a video was made for our work that is offered on the national website associated with this initiative

-Aquilla International Traveling Shakespeare Company at Iowa State University

  • The ISE was the featured pre-show presenter and Guest Lecturer at Stephens Auditorium in association with the legendary international traveling  Shakespeare troupe which has been featured at stages all around the world, and in the White House and at Carnegie Hall

-Co-produced “The National Players traveling Shakespeare Youth programs”

  • The first time ever this definitionally “world class” program has ever come to Des Moines!

-Provided performing actors in a great collaboration with the Symphony’s “Romeo and Juliet” concert






(to annualize the Festival)




In addition to using Bravo funds to defray administrative costs 

associated with the staffing of important and unique activities noted above, 

we also use our Bravo funds to defray staffing costs required for ongoing implementation of the Festival – allowing us to annualize the festival.


Thus, staffing time funded by Bravo was also directed to the implementation of the 2008-2009 Shakespeare Festival in Simon Estes Amphitheatre, 

which exceeded audience attendance expectations by 66%!


Daily maintenance activities are listed, below:




Festival evaluation activities related to the prior year take place from August to December and include:


  • Participating in and researching various national Shakespeare trends and conducing on-site visits to sister Festivals
  • Settling of Festival billing and reconciliation of accounts from 2009
  • Evaluation of 2009 Festival data
  • Creation of various grant funder reports
  • Renegotiation of various contracts necessary to the Festival, such as Fiscal Agency contracts and insurance contracts
  • Filing of Federal tax reports
  • Planning and hosting various Volunteer and Donor Thank You events
  • Planning for annual Board retreat for annual strategic planning
  • Initial planning for upcoming summer show concept and artistic needs
  • Attending various staff-development trainings, meetings and conferences



Festival planning and development activities related to the coming year take place from January 2010-July 2010 and which, for 2010 include:


  • Producing and airing the continuation of 6 1 hour original Shakespeare themed radio plays which aired/will air on “SeeDesMoinesLive” Radio from March-September, 2-4 times each month”


                April: Shakespeare’s April Fools

                May:  Shakespeare’s Lusty Lovers!

                June:  For whom Shakespeare’s Wedding Bells Toll

                July:   Shakesperience Fest!  

                           With special guest from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

                August:  Shakespeare’s Murder and Mayhem on a Hot August Night!

                      September:  (Working title) Back to School with the Bard

                                  including discussion: Shakespeare and School Outcomes


  • Producing a June pre-Festival show, entitled: “Legends of the Iowa Shakespeare Stage!” 


  • Producing 5 June-July workshops in collaboration with Libraries all over the Metro area, for youth


  • Working with the Senior College to provide a Senior College workshop in association with Festival 2010.


  • Working with the Asian-American Alliance, Allianza/Hispanic Educational Resources, Lutheran Social Services ESL Immigration divisions, and with I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa to implement a new series of culturally-focused, dramaturgical talks which will be offered directly on site at the festival by scholars from within the Asian-American, Latino, Irqui and African American communities. 


  • Working with emerging, English-as-a-Second-Language Actors from the Latino community, in collaboration with the Latino Heritage Museum, to develop a play for that community involving classic scenes from Shakespeare translated into Spanish, entitled “Germansperiese”, incorporating the work of beloved Mexican folk stars like German Valdez.  Work with the community began in March 2008 and will culminate in a community performance at the September Latino Heritage Festival.  


  • Working with nationally-published Iowa Author Cynthia Mercati, who has just published the Children’s book “Shakespeare and Me” to develop family night activities based on her new work, to be implemented at the Festival


  • Working with local Grey Market artists to expand our innovative Grey Market free art fair component


  • Working with young professionals groups to expand the activities of our Young Professional’s Night


  • Composing our fourth original world premiere play Shakespeare Play: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream Extravaganza” by W. Shakespeare and L. Sandoval, MFA.


  • Working with our musical director, the legendary Tina Haase Findlay, to compose original music for “Midsummer Extravaganza” – as noted in 2009, fully 5 original songs were created, for which we received a specific written commendation to the Des Moines Music Coalition


  • Working with our Chorographer, Karina Barone (from past performances with the Des Moines Metro Opera) to create the original choreography for seven original dance sequences which will take place during “Midsummer Extravaganza”


  • Auditioning cast, directing same towards the July 2009 production of our Mainstage  Shakespeare shows comprising the signature focal component of the Festival:  


                            An original work based on a special adaptation of Shakespeare’s most famous comedy,

                            A Midsummer Night’s Dream Extravaganza 


                                            This terrific and unique original show will feature a storyline 

                                            told entirely in song and ballet!



  • Implementing marketing in association with all of the above


  • Implementing ongoing development and fundraising and database management in association with all of the above


  • Implementing collaboration initiatives all across the community in association with the above


2.) Describe any changes from the original purpose.




3.) Describe how the funding enriched the quality of life in Greater Des Moines.


WORLD CLASS EVENTS: Bravo desires to provide a “world-class” cultural atmosphere, and Shakespeare is the very definition of “world-class”.  Thus, the ISE provides truly “world-class” services to Greater Des Moines: the world’s most produced playwright, cherished by diverse cultures around the globe.  Shakespeare not only unites cultures, it opens doors to all other art forms as the subject of paintings, symphonies, operas, poetry, literature, and even popular movies.  


Also, we were involved in bringing or supporting a variety of other truly world-class services to Des Moines or the surrounding area:

  • The “I Geek” national Library campaign
  • Brought the world-renowned “National Players” to Metro youth- this group appears all over the world and on the White House stage
  • Were involved in the appearance of the “Aquilla” traveling Shakespeare troupe- provided the pre-show talk at their appearance at Stephens Auditorium in Ames- this group is fresh from stages like Carnegie Hall
  • We supported and collaborated on the Des Moines Symphony production of “Romeo and Juliet” with Actors from the nationally famous “Guthrie” theatre in Minneapolis
  • Our 2010-2011 season will involve a series called “Legends of the Iowa Shakespeare Stage” – A series where we will be bringing to theMetro truly legendary Shakespearean Actors from all across the state of Iowa
  • We are in the midst of planning a “MacBeth” collaboration with the Opera 
  • We are in the midst of planning, along with Trustee Suku Radia, to bring THE most lauded, nationally acclaimed classic and Shakespearean actors in America to a special program (and ISE fundraising benefit) for the Metro community
  • Additionally, we are now annually representing Des Moines at multiple national Shakespeare events, such as the Shakespeare Association of America meeting held recently in Chicago- part of the Shakespeare World Congress!  We are also members of the National Shakespeare Producing Theater Association and represent Des Moines at various Shakespeare Festival events across the country.   


PROFESSIONALIZING METRO THEATRE AND CREATIVE ECONOMY BOOSTS: Additionally, theatre is itself one of the strongest boosts to a city’s cultural life possible.  The universal image of “dinner and the theatre” is one of the classic images of a rich metropolitan life.  By creating annually at least 50 NEW paid jobs every summer for Des Moines artists, we are an important economic engine for the creative economy - - and help to professionalize area theatre especially.  This is important because analysis shows that the lack of paid theatre jobs in the Metro is one key reason why the Metro has not yet managed to create a notable regional theatre similar to the “Guthrie” of Minneapolis.  A notable regional theatre would likely be of significant 


THE MOST POWERFUL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY: Also, theatre is THE single most powerful art form in terms of effecting prevention and early intervention with youth.  ( 


These qualities make theatre invaluable to a city’s quality of life- - -and Shakespeare provides the premier brand name all theatre aspires to.


So it is notable that our Bravo funding help us leverage other sources of community funding to create a variety of additional impactful outcomes in various sectors.  In 2009 alone, we created 37 new part-time arts positions that give a definite boost to our local creative economy.  We are in process of providing outreach and youth workshop services to Libraries all across the Metro. We are further in the process of working with outlying suburbs, such as with the city of Windsor Heights, to develop and present traveling Shakespeare mini-shows to their own internal park systems, based on their request.  And, we remain in process of providing our innovative “Shakespeare in Spanish” programming in collaboration with the Latino Heritage Museum, offering a world-class arts experience for some of the most systemically disenfranchised members of our Region.  (Our goals is for this project, once properly funded, to culminate in a performance at the September Latino Fest, downtown.)


As documented through our other grants, annualization of a Metro-wide free Shakespeare Festival, if taken to scale, also results in a significant impact to the Golden Circle creative economy, including (when taken to scale, using data from the Omaha annual free festival) the creation of a Festival with the annual potential to create 166 NEW PTE jobs for metro-area artists across multiple artistic disciplines, including the following 37 NEW creative economy jobs created in 2009:


  • Theatre Artists (paid positions for 8, including Producers, Directors, Stage Managers, Production Assistants, Props Masters, Youth Workshop Teachers, front-of-house personnel)
  • Actors  (paid positions for 12)
  • Designers  (paid positions for 4 set, lighting, sound)
  • Textile Artists (paid positions 3 including for costume designers, stitchers, dressers)
  • Painters (paid positions for 2 including set painters, poster designers)
  • Musicians (paid positions for 5 including Musical Director, band members)
  • Chorographers (paid positions for 2 Choreographers)
  • Dancers (paid positions for 6 Dancers)



And perhaps most impactful of all, with our 2009 summer Festival, we turned an important corner in terms of our ability to extend our mission accessibly to all.  From our former performances where we were required to charge a rather pricey $20 ticket that drew primarily elite audiences, we were finally able last summer to take our work to the entire greater Des Moines community completely free-of-charge- in a glorious location on the Des Moines Riverwalk. 



4.) Are there any stories you would like to share on how your organization touched an individual or the community in carrying out its mission?  If so, please feel free to attach written information or pictures (electronic) that would relate to this experience.  This information will help us communicate to the public the impact of Bravo Greater Des Moines funding.


We are proud of the following stories taken from our 2007-2009 work to expand our capacity to extend our mission to underserved populations, to minority populations, and to youth populations.


To recap, in 2008 we leveraged funding from other sources to provide fully 200+ hours of quality, after-school Shakespearian-oriented theatre programming intended as a demonstration project to show the type of outcomes which quality, dose-appropriate youth education work can cause to occur in high risk youth populations.  ( Based on data from the Search Institute, we define quality youth programming as programming at levels which increase youth “Assets”, in this case, at the following levels: two days a week of educational services were provided for an entire school semester) to underserved (Moulton School), disenfranchised, 100% minority youth (African American and Latino) youth through a partnership with pARTners and CFUM.


This initiative resulted in many impactful outcomes, ranging from infrastructure development (we developed and field tested the first stages of a new Shakespeare-based, original curriculum targeted to high risk youth) to powerful opportunities to support protective factors in high risk youth.


(Theatre being arguably THE art form most effective, according to established research, at supportive protective factors (qualities which research proves help protect youth from risky behaviors such as drug use, violence, gang involvement, school drop out, and teen pregnancy.  See


This data shows that on average, the youth we served, through our service, increased a total of at least 9 specific protective factors proven to be effective at protecting youth from risk behaviors.  See


In addition to these outcomes, our youth were able to perform in two community performances of Shakespeare!  


One youth Shakespeare performance took place in the youth’s own neighborhood, where youth performed for approximately 40 community stakeholders like parents, teachers, and Enterprise-zone community leaders.  Noted one community leader in attendance:


“Over the years, I’ve seen our communities kids’ perform usually with “talent show staples” such as music and dance.  But I never thought I’d see what I saw tonight- our kids performing Shakespeare! Wow!”

Name withheld


Another youth Shakespeare performance took place at the Java Joe’s Fourth Street Theatre downtown, for approximately 60 attendees from all over the Metro.  


We’d like to share with you one comment made by one of the youth’s themselves, who in his comment, demonstrated the capacity of Shakespeare’s timeless works to bridge worlds and enlighten perception.  The youth, portraying Shakespeare’s humorous character “The Wall” in the immortal “Pyramis and Thisbee” act from Midsummer Nights Dream, worked – as did each of the youth actors- with our artistic director to adapt the play with contemporary lines reflective of the youth’s own culture.  


Thus, for the performance, the youth wrote and proudly gave this line – to great applause:

“Here I may just be a Wall- but at home, I’m a whole BORDER!”  

(“Carlos”, actual name withheld) a Latino Moulton elementary school student


Or said another youth from our Daycamps, upon learning that our key staff, Professor Sandoval, and she shared a last name:

 “I never met anyone named Sandoval before who was a professional artist! “

(“Isabel”, actual name withheld) a 16 year old Latina from Urban Dreams




This stories above which describe youth response to our service gives us chills- as we hope they do you, too.  



For when a youth applies for a job or college,

it is one thing to note that the youth was involved in theatrical productions.


But when the youth can say he or she was specifically a Shakespearian actor/actress…


… the community - a job or college interviewer- tend to see that youth in a whole new light.


As in fact, the youth see themselves in a whole new light.


“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks” (W. Shakespeare)


Man, what’s that light through that window over there? 

 Its my future: and its so bright- I gotta wear shades!






In conclusion: Although since 2008 we have not again been funded at the levels necessary to provide asset increases as noted above, in 2009 we provided another notable achievement: thanks to Bravo funding in combination with other grants, we were able to increase our traveling Shakespeare Workshop programming by a five-fold measure- serving 100% of the local libraries in Des Moines.  Our 2009-2010 Bravo grant is allowing us to increase even that important accomplish by now providing traveling Workshops to Libraries all across the Metro area, an initiative we have been able to stretch by partnering with Metro Arts Alliance to allow full scholarships for some of these programs.  We look forward to continuing to work with Bravo to amp us this, as well as our other truly world-class services and offerings, both in 2010-2011 and the years to come.