Bristol Shakespeare Festival

Bristol Shakespeare Festival to take hiatus...

The Bristol Shakespeare Festival has announced that the annual volunteer-run festival dedicated to enhancing engagement with Shakespeare in Bristol will be taking a hiatus, with the future uncertain. 

The BSF board of directors has released the following statement:

The festival has been running in its current form for 12 years, since it was established as a Community Interest Company in 2012. In that time we have built a wonderfully unique annual programme of events including some the best touring Shakespeare in the UK, from full productions to experimental and devised performances. The festival has allowed us to utilise and celebrate outdoor, unusual and much-loved performance spaces across Bristol, including Brandon Hill Bowling Green, St George's Park, St Werberghs Amphitheatre, Windmill Hill City Farm, Leigh Woods, The Wardrobe, LocoKlub, the White Bear, Ashton Court, Blaise Estate, Redcliffe Caves, the Alma Tavern, The Rope Walk, the Clifton Zoo and many others.

We have collaborated with hundreds of touring theatre companies, both local and international, produced our own critically acclaimed musical Shakespeare performances since 2018, and worked with an Emmy award winning screenwriter to produce the world-first performance of "Shakespeare's Worst", written by The Simpson's producer Mike Reiss.

The festival has also received a number of accolades in this time, including the Prime Minister's Points of Light award for exemplary voluntary services to the arts in 2016, and an invite to Downing Street and Windsor Castle to events with both PM Rishi Sunak and HRH King Charles III in 2023. 

We are extremely proud to be completely volunteer-run, from the committee to our annual event stewards. We work on a very tight budget each year and promote our events tirelessly to ensure audiences in Bristol have access to an exciting, diverse and accessible programme. Our volunteers have brought their skills, passion and dedication to the festival and in return we hope to have helped with skill-building for arts-based careers, and forging new networks and relationships. 

It is no secret that both the arts and voluntary sectors have suffered immensely since Covid. We have seen a number of local and national institutions close their doors due to increasing costs and increasing difficulty in engaging volunteers to give their time, as well as increasing difficulty in obtaining affordable site licences and access to events spaces.

We have had a wonderful 12 years together running BSF, but feel it is now time to step away to make room for new leadership. We invite and welcome discussions with individuals who may be interested in taking the reins and preserving the festival's legacy for the future.  For now, the Shakespeare Festival is on hiatus with possible future closure.

We would like to thank our wonderful audiences and supporters for the last 12 years, as well as huge thanks to the touring companies, local performance spaces, and festival volunteers who have made the festival such a joy to be a part of. 

We have been proud to be a part of the rich and diverse festival scene in Bristol; this is something the city should be hugely protective of, and we send our love and endless respect to our fellow festival organisers who work tirelessly to make Bristol a creative and exciting place to be.

For any enquiries, please contact Suzanne Booth or Jacqui Ham: Director@bristolshakespeare.org.uk

- 18th Jan 2024 -