Shakespeare Birthplace Trust honours Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE



27 November 2013

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the charity that promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times, has appointed Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE as an Honorary Fellow.

The fellowship recognises Baroness Benjamin’s workas an advocate for Shakespeare Week, the new national campaign to introduce every primary school child to the magic of Shakespeare.  Shakespeare Week is the first mass cultural celebration dedicated to primary school children and Baroness Benjamin has played a key role since the launch of the initiative last April.  She promoted the campaign at the highest level with her Queen’s Debate speech on education in the House of Lords. 

More than 1400 schools and 100 organisations have already signed up to take part in the first Shakespeare Week which will take place 17-23 March 2014.  The annual calendar event will unite schools with theatres, galleries, museums, cinemas, libraries, musicians, publishers and historic places in a nationwide celebration of Shakespeare’s cultural and creative influence.

Peter Kyle, Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “This fellowship recognises Baroness Benjamin’s valuable contribution to our work to share Shakespeare’s genius with as many people as possible.  With her passion for inspiring children – and those who help them reach their potential - she is a tremendous ambassador for Shakespeare Week.  Floella has already helped us by highlighting the many ways that exposure to arts and cultural experiences can benefit children, and by calling for Shakespeare Week to become a permanent fixture in our schools calendar.  We are delighted to have Baroness Benjamin’s support for our first national education initiative to engage a new generation with Shakespeare and his rich creative and cultural legacy.”

Baroness Benjamin said, “I am thrilled and flattered to become an Honorary Fellow of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.  This is the charity that is working to make Shakespeare accessible to everyone, a vision which I wholeheartedly support.  I’m particularly proud to be involved in the Trust’s new national schools and cultural campaign to open up Shakespeare’s legacy to every child in Britain. I have seen at first hand how joyfully and enthusiastically young people react when they are exposed to Shakespeare.   Shakespeare Week is a bold and original approach to cultural learning and I hope we can make it a permanent annual celebration that will give our children the chance to feel that they are part of something great.”

Honorary Fellows of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust are appointed in perpetuity.  The fellowship includes Dame Judi Dench, Gregory Doran, Dame Janet Suzman, and Sir Roy Strong.  Click here for a full list.

Ends

Notes to editors:
Press release date: 22 November 2013. 

Picture caption: Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, outside Shakespeare’s Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, who has been appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

For more information please contact Press and Public Affairs Officer Nurinder Mantell on 01789 207136 or email Nurinder.Mantell@shakespeare.org.uk

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon, and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times all over the world. The charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages. It holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no public subsidy or direct government funding; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, volunteers and Friends.