Council Backtracks on Shakespeare Festival

Times Staff Writer

After declaring last month that its "hard-hat community" had little use for the decade-old Grove Shakespeare Festival, a majority of the Garden Grove City Council decided Monday night to appoint a committee to study the issue.

The council, which has been bitterly divided over the role of publicly supported theater in their city, voted 4 to 1 to create an advisory committee to determine whether to continue supporting the festival, which has received municipal subsidies since its inception.

Councilman Raymond T. Littrell, who last month declared the plays of Shakespeare too sophisticated for Garden Grove, proposed the 15-member committee to help the council determine whether city residents want to support the arts.

The issue "has nothing to do with money; it has to do with image, and right now we're detracting from that image," said Councilman Milton Krieger. Krieger, who voted for the committee, said, though, that he thought the council was shirking its responsibility for making a decision.

Councilman Robert F. Dinsen, who opposes public support of cultural activities, cast the dissenting vote, saying, "It looks to me that the arts are pretty apt to have a majority in that kind of setup."

The council is expected Wednesday night to consider again the $83,000 subsidy request for the festival. Grove Theatre Company spokesman Robert C. Dunek said the theater company board will announce after that meeting whether there will be a fall season.

Dunek said the protracted council debate over the company's future has jeopardized the fall season. "With this committee, they are talking about the long term, but we are talking about Shakespeare this summer," Dunek said.

He questioned the need for the committee, noting that the company's 17-member board is appointed by the council.

The committee is to include one representative from the Garden Grove Assn. for the Arts, the governing board of the Grove Theatre Company; one from Garden Grove Symphony; one from the Garden Grove Community Theatre; one from the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival Assn., one from the Garden Grove Unified School District, four former city elected officials, five members appointed by the City Council, and one member chosen by the rest of the committee.

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