City agrees to Shakespeare Fest

The Vermillion City Council received a small sampling of what Coyoteopolys planned South Dakota Shakespeare Festival is all about when Feste the Jester, played by Allen Jones, Sir Toby Belch, played by Reese Porter, and Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Patrick Beasley), performed a scene from Shakespeares Twelfth Night in the city hall meeting chamber. Not pictured are performers Jamie Fields, who portrayed Maria, and Cody Strand, who took on the role of Malvolio. (Photo by David Lias)

Chalk it up to the detailed plans, presented by students from the University of South Dakotas Beacom School of Business who are involved in Coyoteopoly to the Vermillion City Council at its Monday noon meeting in city hall.

Or, perhaps the credit goes to actors who temporarily transformed the floor of city halls meeting chamber into a stage to perform a scene from William Shakespeares Twelfth Night just a few feet away from the aldermen seated at their large curved desk.

The students efforts were successful Monday. The Vermillion City Council approved a resolution at its regular evening meeting agreeing to be a co-sponsor of the first ever South Dakota Shakespeare Festival in Vermillion.

The students involved in Coyoteopoly have already begun meticulously planning for the event, which they plan to hold in Prentis Park June 8 through June 10, 2012.

The festival will include three evening presentations of a Shakespeare play in the historic amphitheater that for years has sat idle in the park. During the day, workshops on various theater topics will be offered free of charge to youth at the Warren M. Lee Center for Fine Arts on the USD campus.

Tickets for the festival will be free for the public. Tickets will be distributed to the public for each festival performance through business sponsors. Business sponsors of the festival will have primary ticket distribution rights as an incentive for their sponsorship of the festival, in addition to other benefits.

Businesses in the Vermillion area will be the main sources of sponsorship, as well as businesses in surrounding areas such as Yankton, and extending to Sioux Falls and Sioux City, IA.

Fundraising for the project will be in the form of corporate sponsorship along with donations and fund-raising events, including one Friday night at Pros Bar & Grill.

From 6 to 11 p.m., Coyoteopoly will be hosting a no limit Texas Hold Em tournament at Pros with a $20 buy-in. Non-cash prizes will be awarded to the top eight place finishers. In addition, the casino night will have $10 chip bundle buy-ins for blackjack tables. Players in blackjack will be able to cash in chips in $10 increments for vouchers that can be redeemed for prizes.

The city resolution notes that Coyoteopoly has requested that the city of Vermillion serve as an official co-sponsor for the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival, and that no direct monetary support of the event is pledged by the city. The festival may indirectly receive support from the city in the form of improvements that may be made to Prentis Park facilities prior to September of this year in preparation of the upcoming event.

Coyoteopoly is partnering with people from USDs College of Fine Arts to prepare for the Shakespeare Festival, Caleb Lyle, Coyoteopolys CEO, told the city council Monday night, summarizing information that had been presented to aldermen earlier that day. We want to have the festival in the park, and it would consist of workshops during the day, where kids from the community could go to the Warren M. Lee Center for the Fine Arts and get to learn about acting, theatre and everything that goes into putting on a show for free.

The overall budget for the Shakespeare festival is $30,000, half of which will be raised this semester, said Alyssa Morse, chief finance officer for Coyoteopoly, in a Plain Talk report published earlier this month.

I feel its important to mention that over 14 semesters of Coyoteopoly, we have raised more than $120,000, and always made money, she said.

While tickets will be free to festival-goers, they will be available for distribution only through sponsors of the festival, which currently are being lined up by the members of Coyoteopoly.

The greatest responsibility we have to offer our sponsors is being the primary distributors of tickets, said Coyoteopoly President Brandon Flynn. Each sponsor of the festival will receive a number of tickets that is directly correlated to their donation amount.

The Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company is the events first sponsor, donating $500 with plans to donate an additional $500 in 2012.

By placing the 6,000 tickets in the hands of the events sponsors, Flynn said, further revenues can be generated for those businesses.

These festivals have a lot of potential and theyve been proven successful as an economic engine for the community they take place in, added Lyle.

Lyle cited as an example the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which he said attracted more than 400,000 attendees last year, with a local economic impact of just less than $62 million.

While the South Dakota festival wont reach that scale, Coyoteopoly vice president of marketing Ben Cahoy said it could attract plenty of visitors and revenue to the area.

As time progresses and the South Dakota Shakespeare Festivals brand name and reputation increases, future Coyoteopoly members will be able to market to a wider geographic area, and may eventually become a nationally-recognized Shakespeare festival, he said.

Lyle noted Monday night that the festival planners goals are ambitious, with hopes of attracting up to 2,000 people to Prentis Park for each nightly performance.

Chaya Gordon-Bland, assistant professor of theatre at USD, said the mission of the festival is to bring free and accessible Shakespeare to the Vermillion community. In the course of answering questions Monday night, she noted that attendance would be free, and the actors who would be presenting the performances would be paid.

Wheres the money coming from? asked Alderman Tom Davies.

We are going to have a lot of corporate sponsorships, Lyle said. In addition, each year we will have a semester of Coyoteopoly working on raising funds.

The student organization also hopes to secure grant funds to help with the costs.

I just want to say how excited I am for the opportunity to breathe some new life into Prentis Park, said Alderman John Grayson. Im very excited about this in terms of the possibility of diversifying the brand equity of the city of Vermillion and it appears to be a terrific collaboration between Coyoteopoly and the fine arts folks in the theatre department at the university.

I also think its a great deal to have the outreach that you all are doing not just with the city but also with business community, he said. Its a terrific exercise for really contributing significantly to the venture capital of Vermillion.

Alderman Jenny French asked City Manager John Prescott if Prentis Parks facilities would be sufficient to take care of the needs of 1,000 to 2,000 people each evening of the festival.

Do you have a vision of what those needs are yet? she asked.

Its one of those things thats probably one of the reasons that its built into the resolution, Prescott said. I think theres a good awareness on their (Coyoteopoly) part that those things dont just happen, that were willing to be developing the facility. Well take a look at what they have. Weve had some preliminary conversations with the Coyoteopoly representatives on things such as how to address traffic control.

Access and parking, and obviously restroom facilities will be part of the business plan that well be working on, he said. They are also looking at having a festival-type environment with different food vendors, that sort of thing, that well need to work through in terms of the electrical capacity to serve those facilities.

Prescott added that he is pleased that Coyoteopoly has begun work on this event far in advance.

We do have time to plan these things, and to say, but what if this happens? so that we will be able to work through those possibilities, he said.

The September date included in the resolution for facility planning is just to make sure that we stay on track with the plan. In my experiences with Coyoteopoly, they are very good at planning, at sitting down with city staff. We will all sit down with our electrical staff, our water staff, police, and talk about what they see as prospective issues on how we may address them, Prescott said.

Lyle noted that Coyoteopoly has made arrangements with the local Eagles Club to provide beer at the festival. No further specific plans on how that would be regulated at the park have yet been made.

Thats exactly one of the issues that I think will have to worked out to the satisfaction of the city manager, said Professor Gregory M. Huckabee, who serves as chair of the Division of Management, Marketing and Law at the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business.

Huckabee established Coyoteopoly in 2004 as a service-learning project that has helped reinforce classroom and course learning.

The city manager is obviously going to represent the councils interest in this, and everything will require the city managers approval to make sure that everything goes according to plan, Huckabee said. We have no plan for that other than we have the idea that wed like to have that happen, but its going to be done within the requirements of the city.

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