In a media release, the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival has announced a repurposed mission this summer to focus on creating new digitally delivered content and experiences. By going online, the content will be available to local Festival followers as well as to new audiences around the world through digital access.
The move comes after Western Canada’s largest Shakespeare theatre festival cancelled its traditional 2020 season in April, the first break in a 30-year-long annual run in Vancouver’s Vanier Park (Sen’ákw) that has drawn a total of almost 2 million attendees since 1990.
“We decided to adopt a proactive new approach once we’d made the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 season,” says Bard on the Beach artistic director Christoper Gaze. “Our focus must be to keep the Festival’s stories and spirit alive in the hearts and minds of Festival followers during this ‘gap year’– and also reach new people who are able to visit our virtual spaces more easily than a physical location. We are truly excited about what we’re creating, and the new opportunities it offers for growth, relevance and inclusion”.
Bard’s new online programming will include virtual interactive gatherings that take attendees behind the scenes to discover how production elements and venue spaces are created. On-demand content will showcase Festival artists and their work in innovative new ways, as well as a range of interactive digital resources for educators and families. And in August, Bard’s new online boutique will open, offering Festival-branded merchandise and more.
Along with the new digital content comes a new Bard on the Beach logo. The refashioned logo features the phrase “Bard Beyond the Beach”. The logo tagline reads “Hearts remote, yet not asunder,” taken from one of Shakespeare’s more obscure works, his poem titled The Phoenix and the Turtle.
Bard’s virtual content can be found at bardonthebeach.org, with new elements to be added regularly throughout the summer and fall. Some material is exclusive to Festival members in recognition of their vital support, but most are available to the general public at no charge. That free access is possible thanks to generous contributions from a range of corporate sponsors and foundations and the three levels of government.