The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (will move from its longtime home at Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, NY to a new site in Philipstown, NY gifted by philanthropist Christopher Davis as a permanent home for the company. In this challenging moment for the performing arts, the gifted parcel of land will offer HVSF the long-term stability of a secure foundation and will serve as a year-round resource for theater artists, audiences, and the entire Hudson Valley community.
The 34-year-old not-for-profit repertory theater will rebuild its iconic tent as a permanent open-air structure and plans to commence performances at its new location in the summer of 2022. Boscobel has invited HVSF back in 2021 for a farewell season to celebrate this 34-year collaboration and the audiences who have supported it.
More than just a home for the theater company, HVSF envisions the campus as a gathering space for the community, a model for environmental sustainability in the performing arts, and a resource for other non-profit organizations. In accepting this gift, HVSF also embraces the responsibility to act as conscientious stewards of this land, which is located within the ancestral homelands of the Lenape (Munsee) people. HVSF is committed to educating visitors, audiences, and the broader Hudson Valley community about the Indigenous history of the region and engaging with Indigenous artists and communities on an ongoing basis.
HVSF has also launched a new program to commission artists to animate the extraordinary site and provide an artistic home and creative time for artists. Among the artists who have been offered inaugural “Tent Pole” commissions are theater makers Marti Lyons, Ryan Quinn, Kholoud Sawaf, and Madeline Sayet, visual artist Melissa McGill of Beacon NY, and composer Heather Christian, also based in Beacon.
“I am delighted to have found the perfect steward for this extraordinarily beautiful land,” explained Christopher Davis. “HVSF is a nationally-recognized arts organization with deep roots in this community. With this gift, we can assure that this place continues to be a positive force for the region while becoming a cultural hub for the Hudson Valley.”
Located at the intersection of Route 9 and Snake Hill Road, the land was purchased by Mr. Davis in 1999 to protect it from unwelcome commercial development. The Garrison Golf Course, located on the surrounding property, will continue to be owned by Mr. Davis and will operate with a modified layout.
Artistic Director Davis McCallum said, “Chris Davis’s historic gift preserves this land and allows HVSF to transform from a summer festival to a year-round cultural anchor in the region. With this enhanced role comes a greater responsibility to serve the entire Hudson Valley community, and we are actively exploring how we can share this enormous opportunity with community partners across the region.”
Since 1988, HVSF has performed a season of plays in rotating repertory at Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison, N.Y. Over that time, annual audiences of 35,000 have come to love the Festival’s trademark style, in which actors emerge from the landscape and perform in a theater tent overlooking the Hudson River. HVSF’s iconic open-air experience will transfer to the new location, where audiences will continue to be able to picnic on the grounds before the show and enjoy a breathtaking Hudson River vista that will serve as the backdrop for HVSF productions.
HVSF’s Board President, Robin Shelby Arditi said, “We could not be more grateful for Chris Davis and his generosity. We are also grateful to our friends and colleagues at Boscobel for our 34-year tenancy, and we look forward to celebrating our successful partnership throughout the summer of 2021.”
“Boscobel and Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival have each grown so much since 1988,” says Boscobel Executive Director Jennifer Carlquist, “We are thrilled for our colleagues and excited for the opportunities that this opens up for all of us.”
“Arts organizations like ours have an important role to play in connecting people to each other, and building and sustaining strong and interconnected communities,” explains Managing Director Kate Liberman. “The gift of a new, permanent home empowers HVSF to carry forward our deep commitment to this community through expanded year-round education and engagement programs.”
Leadership at HVSF have initiated conversations with county, state, and town officials to discuss what this permanent location will mean for the surrounding community. A crucial part of these conversations is ensuring HVSF’s economic impact, currently valued at seven million dollars annually, stays within the region.
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents New York’s 18th District, which includes Philipstown, said, “The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival and The Garrison have both been cornerstones of our community and our local economy for decades. A permanent home will allow HVSF to be even more of an asset to Philipstown and the Hudson Highlands than ever before.”
The staff at The Garrison and Valley Restaurant will remain on board and all booked events will continue as planned. “The Garrison team and I are excited about the vision we share with HVSF for this amazing property,” says Chip Allemann, General Manager of The Garrison since 1999. “Together, we will be stronger, with better facilities for HVSF audiences and more business for our restaurants and inn rooms, while preserving the privacy of our wedding spaces.”
To realize its vision for the site, HVSF has engaged a team of experts including Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects to oversee a Master Plan. HVSF will also be working with Jeanne Gang + Studio Gang and Fisher Dachs Associates Theater Consultants to lead the design process of the performance space. Planned improvements will occur in phases, beginning with a more comfortable and energy-efficient open-air tent theater, along with enhanced facilities for both artists and audiences.
A review process of the proposed changes to the site will occur with the Philipstown Planning Board this fall.
For more information please visit hvshakespeare.org.