The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is among the 10 largest Shakespeare festivals in the world and one of the most ambitious theatre institutions in the United States. The organization offers a number of educational outreach programs, hosts an adult lecture series, and sponsors the Southern Writer’s Project. The Alabama Shakespeare Festival began as a summer program in 1972 in the northeast Alabama town of Anniston. In 1985, ASF moved into a 100,000-square-foot, $21.5 million complex christened the Carolyn Blount Theatre in Montgomery. Designed by Thomas Blount and Perry Pittman, the architecture of the complex reflects the style of one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, Italian architect Andrea Palladio, and houses two theatres—the large Festival Stage and the smaller Octagon—as well as production shops, a costume shop, dressing rooms, rehearsal halls, and administrative work spaces. Famed landscape architect Russell Page planned the English-style estate-like grounds, which is also home to the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. ASF attracts more than 300,000 annual visitors from across the United States and some 60 foreign countries.