OSF Receives $1 Million Grant from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Grant will help bolster OSF’s long-term adaptability in a changing performing arts landscape

News Release
November 25, 2013

Ashland, Ore.— The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has been chosen by The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) to receive a $1 million grant to aid the Festival as it adapts to changing conditions in the performing arts sector.

OSF is among five arts organizations to receive a grant under this pilot project, which awards organizations with a strong track record of adaptability. American Repertory Theater (Cambridge, MA), On the Boards (Seattle, WA), Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts (Middletown, CT), and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company (Washington, D.C.) also received grants ranging from $300,000 to $1 million.

“This initiative recognizes and supports organizations that have proven, time and again, that they are leaders and innovators in their fields,” said Ben Cameron, Program Director for the Arts at DDCF. “We understand that most organizations do not have enough, if any, ‘change capital’—funds that they can devote to maximizing their adaptability. With that in mind, these awards are intended to further fuel the ability of these five organizations to position themselves to respond to changes in their respective environments.”

“This grant comes at an exciting time in our theatre’s life,” OSF Executive Director Cynthia Rider said. “The story of the success of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival over 78-plus years is the story of our capacity to adapt and to meet new challenges and new opportunities. We are extremely grateful to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation for this generous grant, which will further strengthen our adaptive capacity—amplifying our ability to become more responsive to shifting circumstances.”

The grants were not open for application and at this time DDCF considers this is a unique, one-time program. An anonymous panel identified five organizations that have demonstrated a sustained ability to innovate and experiment in ways that inform and lead their respective fields. The grantees will receive support over a period of up to four years. Appropriate uses of this money include, but are not limited to, staff expansion, creation of capital reserves, professional development, technology, board and staff retreats, convenings and consultants.

Since its founding by Angus Bowmer in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has grown from a three-day festival of two plays to a major theatre arts organization that presents an eight-month season consisting of four plays by William Shakespeare and seven that represent a mix of classics, musicals, and new works. The Festival also draws attendance of more than 400,000 to almost 800 performances every year and employs approximately 575 theatre professionals. In 2008, OSF launched American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle, a 10-year cycle of commissioning new plays that has already resulted in several OSF commissions finding success nationwide, including the Broadway-bound All The Way, which won the inaugural Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History in 2013.

Allen Elizabethan TheatreA Midsummer Night's Dream (2013) in the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Photo by T. Charles Erickson. Photo illustration by Craig Stewart.