Nataki Garrett and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival staff are incredible artists; this fear-mongering, anxiety-riddled, regressive outcry is an appalling (if sadly unsurprising) attack on a visionary leader who is creating and inspiring innovative work.
And let’s be clear about this: I do not, for one second, believe that anyone’s concern is truly financial. Nataki’s bold vision is not only artistically irreproachable, it is an actual strategy for navigating the adverse trends facing the performing arts field as a whole. The ideas being proposed by some — “betting on Shakespeare,” a refusal to innovate an increasingly irrelevant canon, catering solely to the tastes of a subscriber base that is aging fast — are unmistakably akin to fiddling while Rome burns. Stop it.
If the concern was about the financial future of OSF, anyone with a platform would be doing everything in their power to increase the visibility of incredible ongoing work, bring in new audiences and make Ashland the center of civic and creative dialogue. Instead, I hear only regressive whining.
I can’t wait to get up to OSF and see this groundbreaking team in action. I know that these changes will lead OSF — and the field at large — to a sustainable, just and dynamic future.