Shakespeare & Co. looking for partner

Shakespeare & Co., a Lenox nonprofit that produces the Bard’s plays, educates teachers, and trains actors, is looking to diversify.

Like most artistic groups, Shakespeare & Co. struggles to make ends meet. According to Charity Navigator, the arts organization ran a deficit in fiscal 2018 of nearly $346,000. Its program revenue totaled $2.5 million, but its program expenses were more than $1 million higher. Donations and government grants offset most, but not all, of the deficit.

The company’s strategic plan calls for upping the nonprofit’s artistic game, performing plays by new playwrights and taking them on the road to New York City. The plan also calls for a 50-50 split between earned and contributed income, and lists monetizing the organization’s property as one way of doing that.

On Monday, the nonprofit invited political, cultural, and business leaders to take a tour of the property to see its potential. Interested parties are being asked to submit statements of interest by November 14. Shakespeare & Co. will look over what comes in and request full proposals from those that make the most sense. A final decision is due in the spring.

The nonprofit’s property, located between Tanglewood and Jacob’s Pillow, has already paid big dividends for the organization. The original 63-acre parcel was purchased in April 2000 for $4.1 million. Five years later, 30 acres were sold for $3.9 million. The remaining 33 acres are home to 17 buildings, of which five have been condemned and are slated for demolition.

The property is zoned R1-A, which permits single-family residential homes on a minimum lot size of one acre. Office, retail, and industrial uses are prohibited. Shakespeare & Co. is also considering seeking a 40R designation, which would allow for residential and mixed-use development. Market-rate housing or a hotel would also be considered, although those proposals would require town approval.

Shakespeare & Co. officials say they don’t have a firm plan in mind. “Everything now is kind of a blue-sky conversation,” artistic director Allyn Burrows told the Berkshire Eagle. “We’ve been hesitant, we’ve been recalcitrant to come down hard on any one idea, whether it be housing or lodging or another nonprofit endeavor.”

Adam Davis, the organization’s managing director, said everything is on the table. “We want to be transparent. We’re not hiding anything,” he said. “In fact, we’re showing it all. We’re showing you where the skeletons are, where we need help. We believe that we can’t do it on our own. We need a community to help us make that happen.”

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

House Speaker Robert DeLeo says he will seek another term as speaker, and he insists he doesn’t tell his leadership team how to vote on key issues. The latter statement was in response to former rep Jay Kaufman, who said DeLeo in 2013 told him he would be booted from his Revenue Committee chairmanship if he didn’t support a transportation revenue package. DeLeo says Kaufman was lying. (CommonWealth)

House leaders are gearing up for transportation funding debate. (State House News)

Not a good look for Gov. Charlie Baker as his staff stonewalls disabled protesters seeking a meeting with him, refusing to even tell them the name of his scheduler or chief of staff. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A developer’s plans to demolish historic buildings to construct a six-story apartment building, after previously citing the old structures in its pursuit of a tax credit for a nearby project, has ignited a controversy in Beverly where the city council is considering some sort of official statement on the matter. (Salem News

Gov. Charlie Baker says Quincy sets an example for housing growth while touting his legislation that would open the doors for denser housing projects, particularly around transit hubs and downtown settings. (Patriot Ledger) 

Tour operators don’t like it, but Salem’s decision to close a 17th century burial ground during the Halloween season has worked out well, according to city officials. (Gloucester Daily Times

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, who was among the White House officials listening in on President Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky will tell House investigators today that he feared Trump’s demands that Ukraine investigate his political rival posed a threat to national security. (Washington Post)

Rep. Stephen Lynch says he’ll vie for the House Oversight and Reform Committee chairmanship that became vacant with the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings. (Boston Globe

The new Democratic debate: Were the “Lock him chants” that greeted President Trump at Sunday night’s World Series game in Washington a good jab back at someone who seems to ignore all norms, or an inappropriate stooping to his level of anti-democratic discourse? (Washington Post)

ELECTIONS

Rep. Ayanna Pressley endorsed her close friend Jesse Mermell, one of six Democrats vying for the Fourth Congressional District seat being vacated by Joe Kennedy as he runs for the  Senate. Pressley also announced her backing of Rep. Lori Trahan, who may face a primary challenge from Dan Koh, whom she narrowly beat in last year’s 10-way primary for a then-open seat. (Boston Herald

Falmouth Selectwoman Susan Moran on Monday became the first candidate from the Cape to enter the race for the state Senate seat being vacated by Viriato “Vinny” deMacedo. (Cape Cod Times) 

Housing issues are animating a lot of contests for municipal offices in the Boston area, with the push for more housing colliding with resistance to greater density and growth. (Boston Globe)

As Lowell voters prepare to decide how to reform their elections, a study from a group at Tufts University suggests ranked-choice voting would be the best option for the city to boost representation of Asian Americans and Latinos in municipal government. (Lowell Sun

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

It was the last last call on Saturday night for Doyle’s, so all eyes are on possible redevelopment plans for the iconic Jamaica Plain watering hole. Universal Hub’s Adam Gaffin has an interesting look at property records and deed restrictions on the property, including news of a pretty sweet deal owner Ed Burke got in 2005 when the Boston Water and Sewer Commission sold a section of the property that runs over the now-underground Stony Brook culvert.  

EDUCATION

The one-day Dedham teachers strike came at a time of heightened action nationally by labor unions overal and teachers union in particular. (Boston Globe

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Urgent care centers, which are basically one step down from emergency departments, have caught on in Massachusetts, increasing eight-fold over the last decade. (WGBH

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health does not have the power to stop Southcoast Health from closing the maternity unit at Tobey Hospital, according to a department official. (Standard-Times) 

Boston researchers are investigating whether a simple eye exam could detect early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. (Boston Globe)  

TRANSPORTATION 

As the T’s Fiscal and Management Control Board prepares to decide the future of commuter rail in Mass., a 25-member advisory group backs going big, with frequent service and electrified trains. One estimate puts the cost at close to $30 billion over many, many years. (CommonWealth)

T notes: Agency payroll is finally getting back to 2015 levels, when Gov. Charlie Baker took office….MIT pays $22m for a new Kendall station headhouse….Soldier’s Field Road bypass not facing pushback….Fred Salvucci warns on Logan International Airport….State eyeing control of new Cape bridges. (CommonWealth)

Boston Surface Railroad Co. plans to offer rail service between Worcester, Woonsocket, and Providence but first the private company intends to provide the service using express buses. (Telegram & Gazette)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Whales are so big and satellite technology is so advanced that the New England Aquarium and the Cambridge engineering firm Draper are working on a project to monitor and photograph cetaceans from space. (WBUR

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A former Boston College student has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the suicide of her boyfriend, whom she subjected to “relentless abuse,” according to Suffolk County prosecutors. (Boston Globe) The case, which carries echoes of the 2017 conviction of Michelle Carter for encouraging her boyfriend to take his life, reinforces the need for a clear law against coerced suicide, argues a Globe editorial. 

Over 33,000 immigrants are waiting for their day in Boston immigration court as a backlog keeps growing. (CommonWealth)