The Shakespeare Theatre at the Folger and the University of South Carolina yesterday announced an agreement that will provide $2.8 million for operation of the theater and a joint educational and cultural venture over the next six years.

Under the terms of the agreement, effective July 1, the university will give the Shakespeare Theatre $300,000 in the first year and $500,000 each year thereafter.

An unspecified amount of that money will be used to create several collaborative programs. Included are acting apprenticeships at the theater for up to seven university students per semester; theater arts internships for up to five students per semester; staged readings of at least two plays a year written by university students or faculty; and at least one theater professional serving as an adjunct professor at the university each semester.

The Shakespeare Theatre also will perform one production each year in South Carolina, and the university will be represented on the theater's board of trustees with two seats during the first year of the agreement, and three seats for the remaining five years. Two university representatives will reside in Washington to oversee the activities of the participating students.

"This agreement heralds an association that will open the way to exceptional possibilities for both the Shakespeare Theatre and the University of South Carolina," R. Robert Linowes, theater board chairman, said at a press conference yesterday. "The synergies are very exciting -- for the stage, for the classroom and the enlarged communities we can and will serve together."

Dr. James B. Holderman, university president, called the partnership "the foundation for the first truly national school of classical theater."

Neither Linowes nor Holderman would say how much of the new fund, which was donated anonymously to the university for the program, would be allocated for theater operation. Linowes initially said it would cost "two to three hundred thousand dollars for the other university related activities," but backed away from that statement when asked if that figure was for the first year or the entire duration of the agreement. "At this stage we don't know what the costs may be," he said.

The Shakespeare Theatre, which 15 months ago was in danger of being closed, plans to become financially independent from the Folger Library, its former administrator, by the end of next season. Its operating budget last year was about $1.6 million, of which approximately $1.2 million was box office receipts and $400,000 from contributions and grants.