THE SHAKESPEARE Birthplace Trust celebrated a record-breaking year in 2016.
During the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death the trust welcomed 825,000 visitors to its five historic Shakespeare houses – beating the previous record of 820,000 in 2014 during the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth.
The trust marked the playwright’s creative legacy with a number of special events including a re-interpretation of Shakespeare’s New Place and the return of his will to Stratford for the first time since it was penned in 1616.
Since the new-look New Place re-opened in August almost 50,000 people have walked through the oak and bronze gatehouse to see where Shakespeare’s final home once stood.
The trust also co-hosted 750 Shakespeare academics from all over the world for the tenth World Shakespeare Congress, and nearly 2million primary school children took part in the annual Shakespeare Week celebration.
Chief executive Diana Owen said: “The world’s eyes were on Shakespeare and his hometown of Stratford upon Avon for this special anniversary year and we’re proud to have played a huge part in these historic Shakespeare celebrations.
“More people than ever before connected with our work which underpins our ongoing investment in the conservation of the Shakespeare family homes, the care of our world-class Shakespeare museum and archive collection and delivery of award-winning education programmes.
“Of course the hard work doesn’t stop here. 2016 has shown that Shakespeare’s works are perhaps more relevant today than they have ever been in helping us to understand the world around us, release our creativity and create conversations between everyone regardless of our age, background or ability.
“We want to continue to share our expertise and the joy of his works with new audiences. We’re delighted to be working on innovative initiatives for 2017 and beyond with a range of partners worldwide.”
In the pipeline for the coming year are a new exhibition at Hall’s Croft, drawing comparisons with Tudor and modern-day medicine, and a pop-up exhibition in Shakespeare’s Birthplace celebrating the Bard’s influence in South Asia as part of the British Council’s UK-India Year of Culture 2017.
And in September the trust will mark 170 years since Shakespeare’s Birthplace was purchased at auction with a re-enactment of Charles Dickens’ campaign to preserve the birthplace for future generations.
Visit www.shakespeare.org.uk for more information.