Home Community Community News Student Shakespeare festival loses funding, is put on hiatus

Student Shakespeare festival loses funding, is put on hiatus

Students perform Shakespeare at the 2017 Playing @ Will Spring Festival. Courtesy photo: Playing @ Will

When Greenport High School math teacher John Tramontana began offering an after-school Shakespeare class in 2013, he never imagined it would become as popular as it did. Students from both Greenport and Southold Schools participated, and each year more and more students signed up.

“We began holding a spring festival with a Shakespeare performance at the Southold School amphitheater in 2015,” says Tramontana.

The first year 30 students were involved in the production; last year there were 40, he said.

But now the money has run out.

“As of now, we’re going to have to put the spring festival on hiatus,” said Tramontana.

Money for the spring festival had originally come from a state grant for arts education and through donations from local businesses. The state funding did not come through for this year, Tramontana said.

“The first year the budget was $3,000 and last year’s was $4,000,” he said. “We used that money to bring professional teaching artists in to help the kids and to put on the plays. We don’t have that option now.”

Tramontana plans to appeal to local businesses for donations to at least get a teaching artist to come out for a day or a weekend this year.

“But we can’t bank on having the full scale production like we’ve had the past few years,” he said.

Tramontana’s goal is to get the funding for the festival into the school budgets for next year. He is also hoping to put together a smaller performance in the spring in the hopes of showing the school board that the money should be put into the budget on a yearly basis.

Tramontana welcomes donations from local businesses or residents and hints that if money comes through, holding a spring festival in 2018 isn’t out of the question.

If you or your business would like to make a donation, you can email John Tramontana.

Katharine is a writer and photographer who has lived on the North Fork for nearly 40 years, except for three-plus years in Hong Kong a decade ago, working for the actor Jackie Chan. She lives in Cutchogue. Email Katharine