Philanthropy Focus: Three Shakespeare Santa Cruz benefactors aim to make sure the show will go on

Watching a Shakespeare play among the redwoods is a quintessential UC Santa Cruz experience. (Photo by Elena Zhukova)

Audrey Stanley and Karen Sinsheimer helped launch Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and Carolyn Hyatt helped guide its course in the early years. With a boost from UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal, this formidable trio has stepped in to give the theater company a hefty financial lift with a $100,000 matching gifts program.

Stanley, SSC’s founding artistic director; Sinsheimer, the founding board chair; and Hyatt, who served on the SSC board for seven years, agreed to donate up to $70,000 in a matching gifts program to honor the 30th anniversary season. Then Blumenthal agreed to commit $30,000 out of his discretionary gift fund, bringing the matching gift figure up to $100,000.

Stanley and Sinsheimer are two names that many theater patrons associate with SSC. In fact, the full name of the redwood-lined outdoor venue where many performances take place is the Karen Sinsheimer/Audrey Stanley Festival Glen.

Sinsheimer spoke of the “huge challenges” facing all cultural and artistic nonprofit organizations in lean economic times.

“Often, it forces people to focus their contributions on perhaps fewer organizations, but those in which they believe wholeheartedly,” Sinsheimer said. “Our job is to make the case for SSC, which is known for its superb quality.”

“From my own experience, I know that everyone feels better because their precious discretionary dollars go further when they are matched,” Sinsheimer said. “I especially wanted to make a pledge to Shakespeare Santa Cruz in their 30th year because I believe SSC truly has come of age.”

This campaign is part of a wider effort to preserve SSC far into the future, Hyatt said.

“We never have to worry about losing SSC if sponsors and patrons realize that they can help,” she said.

Patrons can help ensure that SCC has a reliable source of yearly funding, Hyatt continued. “That leaves the fundraisers and the board free to explore new funding avenues.”

Throughout this campaign, which lasts through the end of the year, gifts and pledges to the Shakespeare Santa Cruz 30th Anniversary Challenge Match will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000. For example, a $5,000 gift or pledge will result in $10,000 in support for SSC.

This formula brings maximum benefit from every dollar that goes to the award-winning theater company, Sinsheimer said.

Stanley praised Hyatt for making the first move—Hyatt started the process by offering a generous donation. At that point, Stanley and Sinsheimer jumped in, and so did Blumenthal.

“His gift represents far more to me than just money,” Stanley said. “It acknowledges the level of achievement for UCSC that the theater company has presented and reached for over 30 years.”

It’s no coincidence that there is a “30” at the front of the chancellor’s donation; the trio of donors created the fundraising campaign to honor SSC’s 30th anniversary season, which continues through the year with performances of the fall benefit show Bard Babes in November and the holiday show A Year with Frog & Toad in November and December.

While the challenge grant is in progress, Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s annual fund campaign will continue to raise income, as well.

For more information or to contribute, contact Ann Gibb, Arts Division assistant development director, at or (831) 459-5507.

This article appears in the fall 2011 issue of Review magazine.