During his work day, Dan Bukovac serves as a partner at law firm Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP. He is also active in the community, serving on the Board of Directors of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival for more than 20 years. He became a director in 1992 when the Board was helping Marilyn Strauss raise funds for the first season. Bukovac was president from 1998 to 2004, succeeding Shirley Helzberg, and became the board president again in October 2011.
“Before joining the Festival Board, I had been involved in other community organizations, primarily as a volunteer attorney. However, I was interested in joining an organization which would help the community but whose mission was unrelated to the practice of law. I was an English major at Georgetown University and took a Shakespeare course with Professor Raymond Reno. He required students to perform scenes during class and then to discuss the scenes as performance as well as literature. Reno emphasized that Shakespeare’s plays were written to be produced on stage and therefore were better understood when they were performed. That carries through with the Festival,” Bukovac says. “. … So after working on the Festival Board for a year, I had the reward of taking my own children, who were then 3 years old and 10 years old, to their introduction to Shakespeare — a performance of The Tempest, the Festival’s first production in June 1993…”
The Festival makes Shakespeare come alive in Southmoreland Park each summer and in the many camps and year-round classroom programs for children. “Although the Festival has produced some plays more than once, 18 of Shakespeare’s plays have been performed on stage. The Festival is professional theater and Shakespeare at its best; and maintaining the quality of the productions is a critical part of our mission,” he says.
Bukovac’s pride is evident. “The success is a testament to the talent and hard work of the Festival’s staff as well as to an incredible theatre arts community in Kansas City — with the result that the vast majority of the community’s funding of the Festival actually ends up in our productions of the plays and our education programs, and not administration.”
Bukovac believes the Festival has a promising future. “I plan to continue to support the Festival along with our entire Board of Directors by fundraising as well as efforts to increase awareness of the Festival and its mission. Also, Board leadership at its heart is making strategic decisions. Our Board understands that, given the Festival’s limited staff and funding, it is critical for us to keep the Festival focused on our niche — Shakespeare —and to choose carefully the projects to which we devote our resources. One of our challenges, though, is inherent in our mission. We need to communicate more effectively that the Festival is free and expensive; free admission makes the Festival accessible but expensive productions insure the quality that is so important in making Shakespeare’s plays accessible. … Our goal is to increase voluntary contributions.”