Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) is a charity whose work is governed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Act of 1961.
The objectives of the Trust, as defined by this Act, are to:
- promote in every part of the world the appreciation and study of the plays and other works of William Shakespeare and the general advancement of Shakespearian knowledge;
- to maintain and preserve the Shakespeare properties for the benefit of the nation;
to provide and maintain for the benefit of the nation a museum and a library of books, manuscripts, records of historic interest, pictures, photographs and objects of antiquity with particular but not exclusive reference to William Shakespeare, his life, works and times.
On the Trust website’s Governance page, it states:
“In 2009 we used these objectives to develop our vision statement:
Leading the world’s enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times.”
On 28 November 2012, the executive board of SBT met to discuss the Shottery development and its impact on Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and on their reputation as guardian’s of the property.
Following the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s (Eric Pickles) October 2012 decision to overturn a unanimous vote from Stratford District Council to block the building of 800 homes on land adjacent to Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery, after an appeal by the developers, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust released the following statement to the media and posted it on their website:
“We are extremely disappointed to learn that the Secretary of State has granted the appeal. The Trust has been an objector to the proposed development, on the grounds of the potential irreversible harm it poses to the setting of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and the registered park and garden which surrounds it. Our position is unchanged. As the charity charged by Act of Parliament to preserve the Shakespeare houses for the benefit of the nation, our overarching responsibility is to protect this unique part of our national heritage. We will consider the content of the Secretary of State’s decision carefully before making any further comment.”
However, some little birds are privately sayting that the SBT will – eventually – sell out. How the Trust thinks that leading the world’s enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times is promoted by driving a ring road and 800 homes through it is beyond belief.
We would like the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to abide by its public position and transform it into action that shows they mean what they say. Namely, to refuse to take the developers’ dirty money. And make this new position public.
It is a moot point whether Shakespeare Birthplace Trust needs the money from the sale of the land. As of 2011, the Trust was worth £21 million, with a licence to mint money from every tourist visit to Stratford upon Avon in perpetuity. However, we are not going to argue with them about their ‘need’.
If it is all about the money, money, money…there are other ways to provide the wherewithal to safeguard the land for future generations. Millions of Shakespeare lovers around the world would be prepared to stump up money to conserve Shakespeare’s heritage. So, it would be extremely short-sighted to say that money is the stumbling block.
But, beyond this, we would like to remind the Trustees of Shakespeare Birthplace Trust of their duties under the 1961 Act – particularly to maintain and preserve the Shakespeare properties for the benefit of the nation.
What a great opportunity for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust this is! It hasn’t had a promotional opportunity like this for decades. A chance to be the hero of the piece, instead of the villain.
This opportunity is in its hands. But it won’t take that unless people act right now and tell the SBT what they think.
The Trustees are as follows:
Executive Committee (the ones who’ll make the final decision)
Peter Kyle OBE (Chairman), formerly Chief Executive of Shakespeare Globe
Bennet Carr, Headmaster of King Edward VI School, Stratford upon Avon
Margaret Cund, National Trust Midlands Advisory Board
Prof. Michael Dobson, Director, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham
Richard Hyde (Deputy Chairman), Chief Exec of Brian Hyde Ltd, (retail construction and DIY industry)
Helen Keays, Management Consultant
Ralph Bernard CBE (ex-broadcasting industry) John Russell
Kristian Jensen, Head of British Collections, British Library
Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director, Royal Shakespeare Company
Neil Constable, Chief Executive, Shakespeare’s Globe
Cllr Rev Neville Beamer, Stratford-upon-Avon District Council
Stephen Jolly, Director of External Affairs and Communications, University of Cambridge
Prof. Tiffany Stern, Professor of Early Modern Drama, University of Oxford
Prof. Carol Chillington Rutter, Director, The Capital Centre, University of Warwick
Cllr Ron Cockings, Warwickshire County Council.
The Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, The Bishop of Coventry,
Sir William Dugdale, The High Steward of Stratford-upon-Avon
Martin Dunne, The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire
The Rvd Martin Gorick, The Vicar of Holy Trinity Church
Cllr Keith Lloyd, The Mayor of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Sir Eric Anderson KT
Sir Geoffrey Cass
Prof. Ann Jennalie Cook
Dame Margaret Drabble
Prof. Kate McLuskie
Dr Roger Pringle
Prof. Stanley Wells
AP Bird OBE, MD, The Bird Group (property).
The Trustees delegate the day to day running of the Trust to an Executive Committee of up to eight members. Membership of which is indicated *