A letter from Folger Director Michael Witmore |  View in browser

Dear Friends,

On behalf of everyone at the Folger, I hope you and those you care about are healthy and coping in these extraordinary times. Everyone is touched by this crisis, and our thoughts are especially with the most vulnerable and with all those who are struggling with uncertainty.

Knowing that Shakespeare has the power to sustain and connect us in times such as these, the Folger is creating new ways to experience our collection and programs for education and enjoyment. Please explore our new online offerings—and join us this Thursday, April 23, for Shakespeare’s Birthday at Home⁠, a virtual celebration in collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

While our public programs through June have been postponed, canceled, or converted to virtual events, we are watching and listening closely for guidance on when we can resume some form of our in-person programming.

Looking to the future

There is a far side to this crisis, and we will want to meet each other and continue our mission in a changed world. We are thinking hard about new realities and possibilities in service to you and our mission, and considering what lost revenue and reduced endowment returns will have on our operations. It will not be easy.

As we look ahead, we are guided by three core priorities: 

• Supporting our staff

We recognize the enormous talent, expertise, and loyalty of the professionals who power our mission. Even as we consider how we will need to adjust our operations in FY2021 based on lost revenue and reduced endowment returns, we will prioritize retaining our existing staff.

• Renovating our historic landmark building

Our Board of Governors has reaffirmed its commitment to our building renovation project. Paid for by restricted donations, capital reserves, and financing, it represents the Folger’s dedication to meet the needs of 21st-century citizens. In time, this investment will create an even stronger foundation for scholarship, programming, engagement, and core operations when we reopen. Due to COVID-19-related closures in authorizing agencies, construction will now begin in Fall 2020.

• Fulfilling our mission to serve learning and enrichment

We are devoting ourselves and our collection to creating the most exciting and engaging programming for students and families, educators and scholars, arts audiences and Shakespeare enthusiasts. We are committed to sharing stories from Shakespeare and his world with everyone.

How you can help

Please share Folger resources with your friends, family, and anyone who might enjoy them.

As the Folger doubles down on its mission, we hope you will double down on your commitment. If you are able, please renew and increase your support. That will help us make the best decisions about programming and operations as we plan for FY2021. Consider Planned Giving—longer-term or life-income gifts to the Folger.

And, if you have special capacity to help, please support our campaign: The Wonder of Will: The Campaign for the Folger Shakespeare Library. Having raised $30.3 million of a $50 million goal to date, and with priorities that include the capital project as well as programming and operations, there are opportunities for everyone.

Ninety years ago, on a spring day much like today, Henry and Emily Folger broke ground on the Folger Shakespeare Library, their gift to the American people. The circumstances were far from ideal—in the midst of the Great Depression, with growing global uncertainty and unrest—but they knew the value of their endeavor.

We approach the future with the same sense of commitment and hope. We look forward to sharing it with you.


Michael Witmore,