July 2019: Michigan Shakespeare Festival Anniversary Month

WHEREAS, the Michigan Shakespeare Festival (MSF) is a nonprofit professional theatre, originally named the Jackson Shakespeare Festival, founded in 1995 as an outdoor summer event in Jackson's beautiful Ella Sharp Park with a mission to inspire and entertain diverse audiences with evocative, interesting, and epic productions of classical theatre’s greatest plays; and,

WHEREAS, Artistic Director John Neville-Andrews changed the name to the Michigan Shakespeare Festival in 1998, reflecting the growing statewide popularity; two years later, the MSF added members of the Actor's Equity Association, making the event a fully professional Shakespeare company; and,

WHEREAS, in 2003, the Festival's growing reputation as a regional classical theatre led Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Senate to designate the MSF "The Official Shakespeare Festival of the State of Michigan"; and,

WHEREAS, in 2010, Janice L Blixt succeeded Neville-Andrews as the artistic director, and a third classical play was added to the MainStage Season; at the same time, the High School Tour was added, performing for more than 10,000 students throughout the year in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio; and,

WHEREAS, the Festival now performs in Jackson's lovely Baughman Theatre and Canton's beautiful Village Theatre of Cherry Hill, making it accessible to Michigan residents across the state; and,

WHEREAS, over its 25 years, the Michigan Shakespeare Festival has grown from one weekend to a six-week season that has entertained more than 85,000 patrons and earned countless awards for artistic excellence; and,

WHEREAS, the Michigan Shakespeare Festival has created a robust website at www.MichiganShakespeareFestival.com with information on the MainStage Season, community outreach, and other programs;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Gretchen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, do hereby proclaim July 2019 as Michigan Shakespeare Anniversary Month and recommend its observance to all citizens by encouraging residents to take advantage of its epic productions of classical theatre’s greatest plays.