Rio Arts just concluded its 6th annual admission free Shakespeare in the Park program at Jacob Myers Park in Riverbank. Although we had to cancel the final 4 p.m. presentation of The Taming of the Shrew due to the extreme temps (112 down in the meadow), we managed to pull off another successful year due to the dedicated volunteer cast and crew, individuals and businesses, on a shoestring budget.
Had it not been for the in-kind donations from Morgan Properties of Castro Valley; Karate for Kids in Riverbank; Zavattero’s; Volvo Rents; Golf Carts Unlimited; Turlock Country Club, Haidlen Ford; TP Express; Ads on the Wall of Sherman Oaks; Lars and Sabrina Enevoldsen; Riverbank Women’s Club; Oakdale Locksmith; Iron Horse Cafe; Judith Buethe Communications of Stockton; Scott & Marilyn McRitchie; Kate Lindberg; Kathy Rich & Jacque Gathright; RHS & MJC Drama Departments — and the Friends of Jacob Myers Park — this production could not possibly have taken the stage in the beautiful new section of Jacob Myers Park this year — and in this economic slump where nonprofits are barely surviving.
But the biggest ‘applause’ needs to go out to The City of Riverbank, its Parks and Recreation and Parks Maintenance/Public Works Departments, the sitting City Councilmembers and City Manager, Rich Holmer.
Their above-and-beyond efforts in collaborating with us to make the park ready for an ‘outdoor theater’ to be brought in and arranging to give us our own parking area for our patrons, cast and crew — and their support in cooperating with us to bring quality, free Shakespeare to the Riverbank community and surrounding area needs to be heralded, especially in light of the recent negative publicity Riverbank has been receiving.
The City of Riverbank has always been an outstanding supporter of our arts organization as well as three others that base themselves there. This is not due to any ‘dysfunction’ within their offices, but a spirit of wanting the best for their community, accessible and frequent programs for youth and adults who seek artistic opportunities, and having the vision — as in their downtown revitalization project — to make Riverbank a more interesting place to live and work.
And to clarify the accusations that the Del Rio Theater was paid for with taxpayer dollars, it is my understanding that the historical landmark — and the land it sits on that has the potential to one day become a thriving Arts Center and economic anchor for the downtown district — was paid for with redevelopment funds.
But this won’t happen unless the citizens and businesses unite with the City to keep this vision (or any vision) alive, offer creative solutions, and stop the counter-productive finger pointing.
Producer - Shakespeare in the Park 2009
Artistic Director - RIO ARTS Performing & Visual Arts