July was a traumatic month for Kentucky Shakespeare, but the organization is ready to move forward. After producing artistic director and CEO Brantley Dunaway’s resignation on July 15, the board of directors conducted a swift search for his replacement. They hired Matt Wallace, a former artistic associate who left the organization in 2010 to lead Shakespeare Behind Bars. He spoke with us on July 31 about his long history with the organization and his optimism for the future.
After a week and a half on the job, Wallace shared his incubating vision for Kentucky Shakespeare on Friday’s Byline: an extended summer season with multiple productions and strong collaborations with other local arts groups, rooted strongly in the organization’s historical mission of free Shakespeare in the park.
Shakespeare in the Park productions in Central Park’s C. Douglas Ramey Amphitheatre have always been free and open to the public, but one new element Dunaway introduced was ticketed VIP seating up front. Wallace doesn’t think that strategy fits the mission.
“We cannot charge for seats in Central Park,” he says.
Details are still up in the air—Wallace’s first round of business has been to conduct some fast fundraising to pay off lingering debts. He and the board raised $24,000 in the last week. He’s working on building up the organization’s sponsorship program and promoting the educational programs for the upcoming school year, too.
“I’ve inherited a lot to clean up,” Wallace says. “But it’s not insurmountable.”
Listen to today’s interview: