ashland.news
July 23, 2024

OSF welcomes new artistic director, announces $2 million donation

Elizabethan Theatre OSF
A full house at Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Kim Budd photo
September 2, 2023

Tim Bond officially started Friday; major donation a step toward paying the estimated $31-33M it will take to produce a 5-plus play season in 2024

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

After an August that included some play cancellations due to smoke and COVID-19, Oregon Shakespeare Festival had cause for celebration on Friday, kicking off a new month by welcoming Tim Bond to his first official day on staff as OSF’s artistic director.

OSF interim executive director Tyler Hokama said Bond has been meeting with staff and donors this week as he transitions back to the area. For Bond, it is a homecoming as he told Ashland.news in an interview in July. He spent 11 seasons with the organization between 1996 and 2007 as associate artistic director.

“We’re not going to be able to go back to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival of 15 to 20 years ago immediately,” Bond told Ashland.news in a virtual meeting in mid-July. “But we are going to begin a very focused, strategic sort of plan to see how we can begin to build ourselves back up, the key to it being really having a robust, rotating repertory experience for our audience.” 

Bond succeeds interim artistic director Evren Odcikin, who filled the void left by former Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. She officially exited the organization on May 31.

“In the near term, Tim is going to be a very busy person, to make sure he’s on top of how things work now operationally, learn who the teams are and the people here are, across different functions, not just artistic,” Hokama said in an interview with Ashland.news via Zoom. “So he’s got to orient himself, as well as make sure we have a season that can happen and one that we’re all behind.”

New OSF Artistic Director Tim Bond. OSF photo by Hillary Jeane Photography
Major donation toward 2024 season

Hokama also shared his excitement about the $2 million gift from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation announced Friday, the foundation’s latest donation to the organization . 

The donation will go toward the 2024 season, which Hokama estimates will cost $31-33 million to produce.

The Miller Foundation is a longtime supporter of OSF, with its first gift dating back to 2004.

Charles Putney, chairman of the board of the James F. Marion and Marion L. Miller Foundation, had this to say about the foundation in a news release:

“Miller is committed to supporting arts organizations at every size not just because they employ artists and their work enriches our lives as Oregonians, but because they are economic drivers in communities of all sizes in our state. OSF and its integral relationship to 

the Rogue Valley was a driving force to our decision to award this extraordinary gift.”

The Oregon-based foundation’s mission is to enhance the quality of life of Oregonians through the support of classroom education and the performing, visual, and literary arts, according to a news release.

OSF’s Interim Director of Development Kamilah Long also praised the donation.

“The timing of this generous gift from the Miller Foundation is vital for our long-term success as we continue fundraising for our 2024 season and beyond. Their generosity aligns with the excitement we’re hearing from our biggest supporters,” Long said in a news release. “We are confident that their gift will serve as a beacon to other foundations and individuals to invest in the future of the arts and our communities, by investing in the future of OSF, in the coming months.”

Hokama praised the foundation for its gift to the arts and arts education.

“OSF has a rich history in education and engagement and so, we’re very much a key participant in helping their mission,” Hokama said.

“I’ve been calling it a significant tailwind,” he added. “It helps us a lot on that trajectory (the 

2024 season), so we’re hoping that’ll continue to give us momentum so that we can mount next year’s season.”

OSF’s target is to produce a $31 million to $33 million 2024 season with more than five plays.

“Some of that is going to be fundraising, some of that is going to be ticket sales and concessions and gift shop and other ancillary revenues,” Hokama said.

Tyler Hokama, interim executive director, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Bob Palermini photo
2024 season not yet set

He declined to announce the 2024 season prematurely, but hinted at what’s to come

“Before Tim was here, the artistic side and the business side have been collaborating to determine how can we create a season that is fiscally responsible, one that we feel we can 

achieve through our fundraising, ticket sales, and other revenue,” Hokama said. 

“People would say it’s a more balanced budget — that is what we are trying to do,” he added.

Hokama also sees the donation of that magnitude as a hopeful sign and an indicator that there are foundations that believe in OSF and its future, including its 90th anniversary season in 2025 and beyond.

In an interview with OPB’s “Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller published Saturday, Bond said of next season’s programming: “I think they’re gonna see world class theater. They’re gonna see at least 30% Shakespeare out of a mix of that and some new work and some other classical work. And some of our long-time favorite actors and directors are coming back to do work with us. I think they’re gonna feel a homecoming in many, many ways.” 

In other OSF news, Hokama shared the organization’s mindfulness about the potential for COVID-19 to impact the company.

Hokama said the organization is holding many of its team meetings virtually, and he noted that he wears a mask in the hallways.

Performances continue to be offered without mask requirements as there are no state or country mandates.

“We had hoped that we were at least through COVID and that just hasn’t been the case,” Hokama said. “We’ve had to do a lot of musical chairs in terms of using understudies and so forth to be able to put on shows this year, but that can only go so far when you have larger outbreaks amongst cast or crew, that can definitely impair your ability to put on a show at all, and when you couple that with smoke, that’s the very unfortunate thing is getting hit in August with both of those things this year – That’s been a bit of a gut-punch, but, we’ll continue to power through and it looks like cooler weather is coming, so that’s helpful for us.”

Hokama said the next couple of months should be exciting as the organization makes more announcements.

Reach Ashland.news staff reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

Sept. 2: Corrected OPB attribution.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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