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Grove Shakespeare Festival: To Be or Not to Be?

November 17, 1990

Dear Garden Grove City Council:

The Western Advisory Board of Actors' Equity Assn. has requested that I write to you to express its concern over the stand you have taken regarding the Grove Shakespeare Festival. It is surprising to the board that Garden Grove is not proud of the fine work that has evolved from the festival over the past 12 years.

It would seem that the attitude of the council in cutting funding is that the community is not being well-served by the festival's choice of plays and the employment ot "high-priced professionals." I think it is fair to say that most communities in this country would be proud to have a company doing the kind of work that exemplifies the highest traditions of the English-speaking heritage we all enjoy.

At a time when our nation's top educators are crying out over the deficiency of education in our schools, the theater has continually represented one of the best ways to instill our youth with pride in the language and literature of Western society. If the festival had not been successful or critically acclaimed, the position of the council would be easier to understand, but recent donations from the Chamber of Commerce and the firefighters would indicate that those bodies are trying to take up the slack that has been created by the City Council, which should be leading rather than following.

The objections to the "high-priced professionals" is equally mystifying to my organization. We have worked in complete cooperation with the management of the festival and have granted concessions, so that there would not be even the normal costs that most communities expend to have the professionals present the best production possible. The union's concessions to the festival reflect our recognition of the importance of communities such as Garden Grove trying to expand the cultural opportunities for the residents in their areas.

The Garden Grove City Council showed foresight and a commitment to the cultural growth of its community by taking the federal aid offered and originally founding this institution. To watch the council step back from such a worthy commitment is sad.

When so much of the artistic community in this day is being beset by fear of obscenity charges, it is surprising to see a community withhold support for an operation with only the highest and most respected goals.

We look forward to hearing that the council's current position is reversed and that it once again takes pride in what it has fostered and continues to support this worthwhile project.


Western Regional Director

Actors' Equity Assn.


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