TitleShakespeare in the Parks Administrative Support Request Date2012-12-17
DepartmentSchool of Film and Photography
RequestorJoel Jahnke Phone994-3903
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts  
Proposed Dates Start: 07/01/2013 End:  
Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, a professional touring company and primary outreach program for MSU, is beginning its fifth decade of offering Shakespeare and other classics free to the public to nearly 30,000 people each summer in MT and surrounding states, emphasizing rural underserved communities. This proposal requests that MSU make a small investment in the company that would allow it to create a stronger administrative support system, enabling the current leadership team to reach its goals for audience development, educational programming and related fundraising and cultivation efforts required to sustain the program into the future.
The company serves the entire state of Montana as well as communities in four surrounding states and has become one of MSU’s most popular and most effective outreach programs. MSIP is distinctly aligned with the core themes in MSU’s strategic plan in their shared commitment to create art and serve communities through engagement and outreach. MSIP has collaborated for many years during the summer tour to make free performances as well as lectures and workshops accessible to students and community members on the campuses University of Montana-Western in Dillon, Montana State University –Billings, Montana State University–Northern in Havre, University of Montana in Missoula, The University of Great Falls, Dawson Community College in Glendive and Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell. MSIP also reaches nearly 100 K-12 schools throughout the year with its two educational programs, Shakespeare in the Schools and MONTANA SHAKES! The company is coincidentally undergoing its own strategic planning process and is positioning itself to ensure a sustainable future which coincides perfectly with the objective of strategically increasing outreach at MSU. This opportunity for MSU to reinvest in the company’s future could not be better timed.
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries       22880      1.0 
Benefits       9825       
Materials & Supplies              
Travel       5000       
Contracted Services              
Other Operations       4295       
TOTAL 42000    1.0 
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

The budget includes salary and benefits for the administrative support position outlined as well as increased support for travel and operations to support the increased fundraising efforts.  The total cost per year is $42,000.

Describe the Proposal

This proposal consists of creating additional administrative support for MSIP to ensure expansion of the educational programming and related audience development and fundraising efforts, including an increase in the number of surround events throughout the tours with grass roots, person to person contact by the MSIP staff to build the donor base upon which the MSU Foundation can draw its prospects for major gifts. From the outset of its planning endeavors, MSIP has been committed to the cultivation of audience and donor relationships on a personal basis in much the same way as the MSIP acting company, throughout its history, has been committed to travelling to the audiences “backyard” no matter how rural. This process is, by definition, labor intensive! Due to the broad geographic reach of the tours and the performances being offered free of charge (resulting in no ticket holder data), the effort is additionally challenging. MSIP’s strategic planning process revealed the need for skill specific administrative support as a primary issue that required resolution in order to allow MSIP the ability to accomplish its goals regarding expansion and fund raising tour-wide. The additional support is needed for production and dissemination of all print and electronic materials, coordination of all donor acknowledgements, master calendar development and maintenance, database  research and reporting, and other duties related to the three outreach programs. This administrative support is essential to ensure the continuation and sustainability of the high quality, professional outreach that MSIP had consistently provided.

From its humble beginnings in 1973, Shakespeare in the Parks has grown from a very small and manageable summer tour with an annual budget of less than $15,000 to a year round touring company with three educational outreach programs managed by five permanent staff members and a small army of seasonal employees with an annual budget of nearly $750,000. In the early years, quite a large percentage of the overall budget came directly from MSU; 40% in 1974. Surprisingly, as the program has grown, the financial support from MSU has remained pretty much unchanged and has in fact experienced decreases in some years while the overall budgets have increased significantly. MSU has continued to offer MSIP in-kind support regarding its residency on the campus, however, in the last ten years, only 6.5 % of the overall income has come from MSU.


Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

Additional administrative support for the MSIP leadership team, consisting of the Artistic Director, Director of Educational Programs and Director of Community Relations, will provide the time required for these members to be “in the field” fulfilling their fundraising responsibilities through the development of surround events and community partnerships that will create a significant increase in cultivation opportunities for both MSU and MSIP with individuals and organizations statewide.

Additionally, MSIP would directly serve MSU as a cultivation and recruitment tool for broadening visibility for the University as the leadership team and touring company members travel over 5,000 miles throughout the state and region to over 150 communities and schools each year, including on or near all of Montana’s seven Indian Reservations.  MSIP received a very high ranking and recommendation from the Cultural and Aesthetic Grants Committee in response to a statewide granting competition clearly describing what impact MSIP has on the communities it serves each year. The committee commented;

This is an excellent, stellar, statewide core program.  The application is creative and innovative. They are unique in the state. The program is good and excels at cultural impact in the state. They have lots of good partnerships with schools, universities and local festivals. They have quite a wide diversity of funding sources. It is well supported. They have good city and local funding. In-kind donations are substantial. The very nature of their organization, as a travelling program to all size towns, means great outreach. This is an important project throughout the state. It is a model of how to run a successful program.

While this offers evidence of the long history of excellence, the company is at a critical point in its development and is poised to move to the next level of sustainability. With help from MSU, this can occur for the mutual benefit of both.

Implementation Plan


July 2013

  • MSIP will begin securing additional administrative support through searching, hiring and training with existing leadership team.
  • Aug.-Sept. - additional surround events will be added to support the outreach of the Shakespeare in the Schools tour.
  • Oct. - Jan. Site visits will be planned for the leadership team to target tour individuals, business in strategic locations tour-wide.

July 2014

  •  Support in place to create production materials, research and capture database information, organize and plan for an increase of 5-7% in surround events tour-wide for all three outreach programs. Leadership team will have increased fund raising goals, site visit and cultivation contact responsibilities. A corresponding increase in audience attendance and individual and corporate support will be expected.

July 2015

  • An additional increase of 5-7% in audience attendance and overall donated income will be planned with the entire team working at full strength. Changes in the some members of the leadership team are anticipated but the administrative support and partial experienced leadership will still be in place throughout this transition period.

In 2012, MSIP, in celebration of its 40th Anniversary, made modest increases in the number of surround events throughout the summer tour with the excellent results of a 16% increase in audience attendance tour-wide and 13% increase in individual summer donations. These significant results confirm the efficacy of this strategy.

Assessment Plan

MSIP’s strategic planning goal of having administrative support that can offer the leadership team more specific reporting and research on potential donors, assistance in the organization and planning of increased surround events, site visits, and other outreach opportunities for all three touring programs and timely production of electronic and printed materials for fundraising related activities, will create measurable outcomes to assess the productivity of the project.

Measurable outcomes will include monitoring and analysis of audience attendance, cultivation contacts of existing sponsors and prospective donors, individual donations, annual mailing solicitation response, database information including increased giving, new donors, business partnership growth both local and statewide, and results of fund raising events.  All identified projects will be assigned specific goals, assessment evaluators and ongoing timelines and team members will meet regularly to ensure consistent appraisal of all goals.

If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

Since, MSIP’s audience development and fund raising goals cannot be achieved under the current staffing conditions, if the objectives are not met within the timeframe, the company will reassess its financial situation and determine whether the level of programming can continue to be maintained within the limited resources of the company.  If it is determined that it cannot do so, in a “worse case” scenario, current programming will be either reduced or eliminated.

Department Head: Robert Arnold (
Dean/Director: Nancy Cornwell (
Executive/VP: Martha Potvin (