Unrestricted Grant to Provide Operational Support To Help Stabilize the Theatre Company
Hitz Foundation, a private non-operating family foundation supporting numerous projects in science, the arts, and the environment throughout the world, has awarded the Oregon Shakespeare Festival a $10 million unrestricted grant, to be paid over the next five years. The funding will help kickstart OSF’s multi-year fundraising efforts to move through recovery from significant deficits due to COVID-19 and the devastating Almeda wildfire into vitality, and to further realize OSF’s purpose and Artistic Director Nataki Garrett’s vision for the theatre.
“This generous gift comes at a critical time for OSF as we continue our recovery and lay the foundation for the long-term stability and success of this beloved theatre,” says Garrett. “I am deeply honored that the Hitz Foundation believes in OSF and the work we are doing here: bold theatre-making intersecting with the digital realm; industry-forward inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility work; and centering artists as thought leaders and changemakers who transform culture. This grant will help us deepen our commitment to continuing this work for our artists, supporters and future generations.”
Garrett’s vision since joining OSF in 2019 has been to center artists in a nurturing space that attracts and retains diverse talent from around the globe; foster a hub of multi-modal, mixed-discipline, and physical and digital media intersectionality; support expanded platforms for artists to take audiences on longer, deeper journeys of their work; and position OSF as a year-round destination for performing arts.
The Hitz Foundation was founded in 2000. Since that time, the Hitz Foundation and the Hitz family have granted almost 80 million dollars to over 200 different organizations in six major project areas, including arts, with a focus on Shakespeare translations.
“The Hitz Foundation believes in supporting meaningful work in the arts and trusting its leaders to make an impact in their companies and throughout their industries,” says Dave Hitz, Chairman of the Hitz Foundation, who also serves on OSF’s Board of Directors. “OSF is helmed by two of the most exciting leaders in our industry. I am passionate about Nataki’s vision to center artists and artmaking in all OSF does and am thrilled by the direction both she and David are leading the company. Their unique skills and leadership will ensure that theatre will be accessible to anyone and everyone for generations to come.”
Like other theatre companies across the country, OSF continues to recover from the impacts of the closures due to the pandemic, including having to lay off 90% of its staff and being shut down for 18 months, dealing with inflation and complicated supply chain issues. In 2020, OSF and the Rogue Valley faced several challenges when the devastating Almeda wildfire destroyed more than 2,500 homes in the valley—the destruction of which has had a significant impact on the organization’s access to affordable housing.
“Since returning from the closures, we have seen 46% of our audiences return,” says Executive Director David Schmitz. “Though this percentage is healthy and commensurate with what others are seeing across Oregon and the country, it is nonetheless unsustainable for our theatre. The pandemic subsidy we received from state and federal governments was the lifeline we needed to get our first season going, but we will be reliant on philanthropic support to move us through the coming years of recovery as we seek to fill the giant hole created by the pandemic. We believe this recovery will last at least five years, and are immensely grateful to the Hitz Foundation for providing us with a launching pad upon which we will be able to build the Oregon Shakespeare Festival of the future, and attract other like- minded philanthropists to the cause. ”
“The 2022 Season was a miracle, but we know that the recovery period will take time,” adds Diane Yu, OSF Board Chair. “We are immensely grateful to the Hitz Foundation and hope that this will incentivize other individuals, companies, organizations and foundations to also contribute to the deeply meaningful work to which OSF is committed.”
About Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Led by Artistic Director Nataki Garrett and Executive Director David Schmitz, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) expands access to the transformational power of art and art-making. A global entity and an ever-evolving container for the future that responds to changing tides, the organization is committed to co-liberation through radically inclusive, accessible, and collaborative practices. OSF centers and nurtures artists and multimodal, multidisciplinary work. OSF was founded in 1935 and has grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a nationally renowned theatre arts organization that presents a rotating repertory season of up to 8 plays and musicals, including both classics and new work. OSF productions have been presented on Broadway, internationally, and at regional, community, and high school theatres across the country. In 2020, the organization launched O!, its new digital stage featuring performances of groundbreaking art and mind-expanding discussions that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. O! attracts more than 10,000 views per month from audience members in over 50 countries. Learn more at osfashland.org.
OSF’s 2022 Season is possible thanks to the extraordinary generosity of its supporters. OSF is deeply grateful for the contributions of generous individuals, foundations, corporate partners, and government agencies that sustained us through the challenges of the past two years. For an up-to-date list of donors, visit osfashland.org.
press release and image from OSF