State Funding of $2.5 million+ is a “Big Win” for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

ASHLAND, Ore. — “This is a big win for us” is how the delighted interim executive director, Tyler Hokama, described the $2.5 million+ funding for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) approved by the State Legislature last Thursday. Oregon Governor Tina Kotek must now approve the $2,555,175 funding.

The large financial contribution was approved by the state after Hokama and other OSF supporters testified in a House Committee hearing. They pointed out reasons why financial assistance was so important to the cultural organization. Hokama’s appeal was supported at the hearing by Ashland Mayor Tonya Graham and a representative from the Southern Oregon University. The House Committee heard about the significant role played by the OSF in the economy of Southern Oregon.


The OSF Starts its 2024 Season on a High Note

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, recognized as a non-profit world-class theater, can now begin the 2024 season on a high note after its appeal for funding was granted by the State Legislature.

Tyler Hokama says apart from the current season, the funding will be used to plan for the OSF’s 90th anniversary that it will celebrate in 2025.

The funding is the largest awarded by the state. The OSF was one of seven main venues seeking financial assistance. The second largest award of $949,375 was to the Oregon Symphony.

On Monday, 19 March, the OSF will preview plays to be staged during the 2024 season that will open on 29 March.

Hokama says the OSF’s funding appeal was supported by community organizations such as the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. Hokama conceded that while the OSF is about art and enriching the lives of Oregonians, it plays an important role in the local economy.


Hokama Stepped in when OSF Was in a Crisis

Hokama states that the OSF was “in a crisis” when he came out of retirement to take control as the interim executive director.

Former executive director David Schmitz, together with a number of other staff members, left in January 2023 when the OSF found itself in a financial crisis.

Hokama says with the new funding, the OSF can look ahead to its future with optimism and fill vacant positions such as a permanent executive director.

Hokama has confirmed that he will continue in his leadership role until such time as a successor is found. Hokama says he will make himself available to his successor to ensure the takeover transition period runs smoothly. The OSF is now in a sound financial position and Hokama plans to help his successor keep the organization on a healthy footing.

The interim executive director says no deadline has been set to appoint a successor because “it is less about a timeline and more about the right person.” Hokama says the search committee and the board are focusing attention on finding and appointing the right person for the job. The OSF would rather wait a while longer than making a rushed decision.

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