Shakespeare’s Globe Annual Review: outlining activities from Spring 2018 – Spring 2019

Shakespeare’s Globe has announced that turnover for the year ending 31 October 2018 was £24 million, providing a surplus of £374,000 to be reinvested in the continuing development of the organisation. The Globe continues to operate without public subsidy, and almost 90% of income is generated by mission-based and commercial activities, the remaining 10% garnered from corporate partnership support and donations. Theatre ticket sales and admission charges generate almost three quarters of income, yet over 40% percent of tickets are only £5.

Michelle Terry, Artistic Director, said: “To make art and culture that is truly accessible for all, both on and off our stages, takes huge investment. Of course, financial investment, but also investment of time. Time to listen and to learn, and then more time to convert lessons into knowledge, understanding and most importantly, action. Then we need time to fail, and time for patience and courage to try again and time to forgive when change doesn’t happen quickly enough. 

I feel very proud to be part of an organisation that is committed to trying and failing and learning and trying again. An organisation prepared to invest in a redefinition of success which is as much about human development and capacity as it is about financial growth, as much about process as it is about product and an organisation that feels keenly its obligation to our local, national and international communities.” 

Patrick Spottiswoode, Director, Globe Education, said: “As more and more cuts are made to education and cultural activities across the UK, there has never been a more important time to have a robust offering to schools, and any age group wanting to interact with Shakespeare’s  work. Our annual Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production provides 20,000 free  tickets to London and Birmingham secondary school students. Our flagship MA with King’s College is now 18 years old and is the most popular Shakespeare MA in the country. Our inhouse research faculty stands at the forefront of Shakespeare scholarship, and our team of Globe Education Practitioners are sharing approaches to teaching Shakespeare in the classroom in schools across the world. The education offering at Shakespeare’s Globe goes from strength to strength, providing access to Shakespeare to everyone from preschool to pensioner.” 

Michelle Terry’s first summer season as artistic director boasted 89% maximum capacity across a total of 11 productions, 272 performances, with 364,422 theatre-goers choosing the Globe. Highlights included Emilia, commissioned by Michelle, being transferred for a celebrated West End run, and a sell-out production of Othellostarring Mark Rylance and André Holland (start of the Oscar-winning film Moonlight). In total,1,005,003 people visited The Globe and Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, education events and Exhibition and Tour, and another 4.5 million people engaged with the Globe digitally through filmed productions and the website.

The Globe aims to reflect the diversity of the UK, and particularly Southwark, both on stage and behind the scenes. The acting companies all achieved a 50:50 gender split and were  representative of the BAME population of London. In Michelle’s first winter season, Richard  II was the first ever company of women of colour in a Shakespeare play on a major UK stage.  The upcoming Henry V stars Sarah Amankwah, the first woman of colour to take the role on a  major UK stage. The number of Deaf and disabled actors performing on our stages increased  to 5%. Deaf actor, Nadia Nadarajah (Celia in As You Like It), was awarded Best Supporting  Actress in a New Production of a Play in the 2018 BroadwayWorld UK Awards.

The Education department, led by Patrick Spottiswoode, staged Much Ado About Nothing for the twelfth Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank. This production for schools played to over 24,000 students, of whom 20,000 were given free tickets to the show. As usual, for many this was their first experience of a  Shakespeare performance. There were fewer schools’ visits for workshops this year owing to ever increasing budgetary pressures and cuts to creative education, however, participation grew with 139,248 students and participants engaging with the work.

Shakespeare & Race, devised in association with the Folger Shakespeare Library and complementing the production of Othello, brought international scholars to Bankside and highlighted the importance of race to the consideration of Shakespeare not only in his time, but more importantly in our own. Another successful public event of discussions, staged readings and talks, Shakespeare and Censorship, marked the half-century since the Theatres Act began its official journey towards overturning censorship on the UK stage.

A single small ensemble company took three comedies – Twelfth NightThe Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew – from the Globe stage to six countries and 20 cities. For the first time, there were a number of highly popular ‘voters’ choice’ performances, allowing the audience to decide on the day which play to see. Education work in conjunction with the tour was well received in China, establishing an ongoing teacher training initiative and a research project to be undertaken at Beijing University

Farinelli and the King, Claire van Kampen’s play first performed in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in 2014 and starring Mark Rylance, enjoyed a highly successful run at the Belasco Theatre on Broadway. The production was co-produced with the Globe, Sonia Friedman Productions and Paula Marie Black, and garnered five Tony Award nominations, including Best New Play, and for a time was the best-selling play on Broadway.

Backstage, a new ‘People Plan’ is setting objectives to reduce the gender pay gap and establish new policies for respectful working – including a new harassment policy and clearer reporting channels – and creating staff-led Diversity and Inclusion forums. The Globe also became strategic partners with PIPA (Parents in Performing Arts) and trialled new rehearsal schedules to provide more flexible working conditions for families. In order to encourage openness with mental health, staff were engaged in a programme of advice and events for Mental Health Awareness at Work and the Globe recruited their first cohort of Mental Health First Aiders. The first apprenticeship training programme, supported by a Pathways Co-Ordinator and funding from ICAP, led to four apprentices graduating in September from the year-long programme.

Assisted performances for those with sensory requirements increased from 18 (2017 Globe season) to 38 (2018 Globe season), and the Shakespeare’s Telling Tales literary festival was supported with sign language for the first time. Relaxed Performances for every production continued with great success this year.

Neil Constable, Chief Executive, said: “Following severe cuts to the support of arts in schools, and general uncertainty around Brexit, the macro-economic challenges faced this year have been substantial. However, we have implemented organisational changes for the next financial year to ensure our future  resilience and sustainability. I’m proud that despite these challenges, the Globe’s work has gone from  strength to strength, offering successful and critically-acclaimed theatre productions, first-rate educational  activities, and an enduring commitment to improving inclusion and diversity.”