Theatre will fail without commercial enterprise on property

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor:

Stratford is my hometown. I grew up here as did my children. I remember when Stratford Center had Kelman’s Grocery, Rapps’s Five & Dime, and other ‘mom and pop’ stores including Lovell Hardware. All have been replaced by the big-box outfits. Kelman’s by Stop and Shop; Lovell’s by Home Depot.

The world is changing: mom and pop businesses are being replaced by giant nationally positioned corporate stores. They have the money, the means to buy out competitors and provide the instant-access convenience so valued in our culture.

The American Shakespeare Festival Theatre has experienced this change too. In its heyday, buses filled with school children would pull in to see shows, local folks from Stratford and surrounding regions would come out in support. Even though its stage featured some of the leading stars and productions of the day, the Theatre was just another local mom and pop business.

Those days are long gone. The world is constantly changing, and no matter how one might like to return to a more simple time and less frantic pace, acceptance of this change is necessary. You can’t go back.

Just as the era of mom and pop stores has all but disappeared, so too the Shakespeare Theatre cannot be successful by going back to the way it was. It cannot keep an old-fashioned mentality style of operation and footprint. Whether you long for its re-opening or want to see it torn down, the fact is, the Theatre cannot support itself.

The only way this not-for-profit Theatre can survive is by having a commercial enterprise on the property for support. Having a beautiful boutique Shakespeare Inn will help sustain the fabulous Shakespeare Theatre in its park-like setting as well as bring jobs and tax revenue (estimated to be $500,000-plus annually) to the town.

Times have changed and will continue to do so. Without the yearly funding of the inn, the Theatre will fail.

Town Council members, please think, evaluate, understand and embrace the necessary changes that will take our historic Theatre into a sustained and successful future.

Carol Lockshier

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