Monday night was the official opening of the Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare In The Park production of Julius Caesar. But reaction to the show, which depicts Caesar and his wife as First Couple lookalikes, began earlier, when Delta Air Lines and Bank of America withdrew their support, followed by a distancing message from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Before the lights went down on Monday, Public Theater artistic direct Oskar Eustis, who also helmed this production, took to the stage of Central Park’s Delacorte Theater and addressed both the anger aimed at the Public and the supporters who have stood by the company.

“The Public’s mission is to say that the culture belongs to everybody, needs to belong to everybody,” Eustis said. “To say that art has something to say about the great civic issues of our time, and to say that like drama, democracy depends on the conflict of different points of view. Nobody owns the truth—we all own the culture.”

Here’s his speech: