DOT Now Charging ‘Shakespeare in the Parking Lot’ for Summer Use

Posted on: June 20th, 2013 at 6:22 am by
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[Photo: Shakespeare in the Parking Lot]The DOT is stifling a longtime Lower East Side tradition. Starting this summer, for the first time in its two-decade history, the Shakespeare in the Parking Lot troupe will be charged to use their performance space. Many residents see this as an affront on the neighborhood arts scene.

The New York Times has the scoop. Apparently a recent change in department rules regarding the 33 city municipal lots now requires a reimbursement from the parking lot players for occupying the unused spaces. The cost isn’t prohibitive, but it’s just the principle of the matter. Out of the blue, Big Brother comes to collect.

The cost is relatively modest — eight spaces at $8 a day each, or $64 a performance, that is, $1,152 for 18 total performances. But leaders of the Drilling Company, which produces the plays, were taken aback. They view the performances as public art and a community service — shows typically draw 150 to 200 people apiece — and their budget for the Shakespeare plays, financed by grants, fund-raising and donations, is only $15,750.

They were even more surprised by a follow-up request from the city that they buy automobile liability insurance, though Drilling Company members don’t drive or sit in cars during performances. The troupe ended up paying $2,400, raised from its members and donations, to cover the expenses.

Hamilton Clancy, the Drilling Company’s artistic director, and Rob Wilson, a former board member of the theater and an adviser to Mr. Clancy, said they tried to negotiate a waiver or a payment plan with the city, to no avail.

The show will go on, though, and with the same free admission. Cymbaline will play in July, and Richard III in August.  What’s your take on the city clamping down on the beloved program?

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