Gannon University’s theater department, already rich in talent and history, just got a little bit richer.
The department recently received a $3,250 grant from ArtsErie, Pennsylvania’s oldest arts council. The money will go toward the department’s annual Summer Shakespeare Project.
The Summer Shakespeare Project encompasses Shakespeare Summer Nights, a series of free Shakespeare productions, as well as shakeXperience and GTX (Gannon Theatre Experience), both summer camps for high school students.
The Rev. Shawn Clerkin, an associate professor of theatre, communication and fine arts, founded Summer Nights in 2003. During its first 10 years, Summer Nights drew more than 7,500 attendees across Erie, Corry, Edinboro and Girard, he said.
Participants have produced classics such as “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “King Lear” and “The Taming of the Shrew.”
GTX and shakeXperience bring interested high school students together to learn more about theater. The former focuses on modern practices in comedic and vocal performance, dance, and playwriting. The latter covers William Shakespeare’s work through classes in history, performance, scenic design and period dance.
Clerkin said students are given the opportunity to perform professionally (for pay) in Summer Nights and to assume responsibilities as counselors for the two summer camps.
“We want to instill a love of theatre, classical and contemporary, not just as theater artists but as potential future consumers,” Clerkin said.
ArtsErie hosted a grant reception Nov. 18 for the 2013-14 Project Grant awardees at the Cultural Enrichment Center of the Multicultural Community Resource Center on East 10th Street.
The Erie Playhouse, Lake Erie Ballet, Crime Victim Center of Erie County, Erie Zoo and Botanical Gardens and Mercyhurst University were a few of the organizations also awarded grants.
Proposals for ArtsErie Project Grants are accepted once a year. These proposals are reviewed by a volunteer panel on the basis of artistic quality, impact and management and community engagement.
Gannon was one of 64 applicants, with requests totaling $297,680. ArtsErie ultimately awarded $133,302 to 36 projects in Erie County.
According to its website, ArtsErie aims “to help strengthen the vibrancy and vitality of the Erie Region and enrich the lives of our residents through arts and culture.”
Each year the council distributes grants of up to $5,000 to member organizations throughout the region. Grants are funded through the Erie Arts Endowment, the Combined Arts & Culture Campaign and the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA), a state program.