First-ever Virginia Shakespeare Initiative (VSI) Launches with Partner Meeting


21 Organizations from across the Commonwealth joined in Richmond to collaboratively plan the Virginia Shakespeare Initiative

Charlottesville, VA – A planning committee composed of representatives from the American
Shakespeare Center, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and
Washington and Lee University has officially launched a partnership with more than twenty Virginia
organizations to coordinate a statewide commemoration of the upcoming 400th Anniversary of
Shakespeare’s death, April 23, 2016.

On June 18, 2015 the planning committee and partner organization representatives met at the
Library of Virginia in Richmond to share plans for Shakespeare-related programming during the
initiative, which will run from August 2015 through December 2016. The lively discussion yielded
ideas for collaborative projects and innovative opportunities to engage Virginians in a celebration of
the genius and impact of Shakespeare, such as:

  • A writing competition for works inspired by Shakespeare
  • A series of classes about the Elizabethan era with topics on costuming, beer making,
    dancing, and cooking
  • Performance competitions aimed at the middle and high school ages
  • The encouragement of gardening projects inspired by references to flora in Shakespeare
  • A day devoted to Elizabethan culture in Colonial Williamsburg
  • Public readings across the Commonwealth on Shakespeare’s death date of April 23

At this time, VSI is collecting information about Shakespeare-related programming events occurring
in Virginia during the initiative period. These events will be broadly promoted so as to thoroughly
engage Virginia in celebration of this anniversary. The planning committee encourages the
submission of planned events and subscription to the VSI newsletter at

The forthcoming VSI website will include a calendar for all events related to Shakespeare and a blog
on the connections to and interpretations of Shakespeare across Virginia. The launch date for is planned for early August. In addition, all are encouraged to join the initiative on Facebook and to invite Shakespeare into their conversation with #VAShakespeare.

As the meeting closed, many partners voiced excitement for the months ahead, and for the
collaboration on an initiative that could inspire lasting events and education long after its planned
closure in December 2016.

In agreement, VSI planning committee member Hank Dobin concluded, “Virginia is the
Shakespeare state. We have the opportunity and responsibility to not only celebrate the historical
connections Virginia has to the Bard, but to deepen existing traditions, inspire new engagements,
and cultivate enduring attitudes.”

Virginia Shakespeare Initiative (VSI) Partner Organizations:

Colonial Williamsburg
Executive Mansion
Library of Virginia
Piedmont Council for the Arts
Quill Theater
State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
Virginians for the Arts
Virginia Association of Independent Schools
Virginia Association of Museums
Virginia Center for the Book
Virginia Community College System
Virginia Council for Private Education
Virginia Department of Education
Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges
Virginia Library Association
Virginia Office of the Secretary of Education
Virginia Theatre Association
Virginia Tourism Corporation
Westminster School

Virginia Shakespeare Initiative (VSI) Planning Committee:

American Shakespeare Center
Virginia Commission for the Arts
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
Washington and Lee University