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Keeping GRSF is up to you (04/20/2011)
From: Margaret Shaw Johnson

I love the Great River Shakespeare Festival! I love everything about it, as does my husband, Bruce. Bruce is an athlete. He never paid much attention to Shakespeare or theater in general, for that matter. A few years ago, he would have said he didn’t care for Shakespeare, but ever the supportive husband, he came with me to a few performances. He was impressed. He loved it. He is now one of the Festival’s greatest fans.

We agree that we have to support the things we love. If we don’t, they won’t be here. Winona is blessed with a number of generous benefactors…families and individuals that step up again and again, and businesses, too, who we all know to be constant contributors. But the rest of us need to give, too. This is our town. It will be what we make it to be.

A few years ago, I met up with an old friend at a class reunion. For many years he had lived in a large city. I was lamenting about a local retail store that had gone out of business. “I didn’t shop there enough!” I said. “They had great merchandise, but often I didn’t think of them and went to the big, out of town stores! I feel very bad about this! Now they’re gone, and there is another hole on Third Street!”

He looked at me in amazement. He said, “I can honestly say that I have never, once, felt any guilt or responsibility for the failure of anything in my town. It never occurs to me that it has anything to do with me.” I was equally amazed. I said, “I feel responsible for everything that happens in Winona. I know I am only one person, but I think it all has to do with me.”

It’s all about living in a small town and loving it. Sometimes it feels like a burden.

There is so much to do…so many great, local causes that need supporting. When we lose something valuable, I feel that somehow it is partly my fault. But it is also an opportunity because we know that if we do step up, all of us together, we can make things happen. Contributing to the Shakespeare Festival’s “Setting the Stage” campaign is one such opportunity.

Are there 1,000 of us who could pledge $150.00 per year for three years? Are there 200 people who could pledge $1,000.00 per year for three years? If so, it would make a tremendous, maybe a critical difference. My husband and I have already made our three-year pledge. We hope many others will, too.

The Great River Shakespeare Festival deserves our support. It has helped to place Winona on the map as an arts destination. It enlivens our community. It helps our economy in measurable ways. It enriches the education of our children. And it is also a whole lot of fun.

For more information about the Great River Shakespeare Festival and to contribute to its “Setting the Stage” campaign, visit the websites at http://grsf.org and http://grsf.org/setting-the-stage 


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