The Oregon Shakespeare Festival Board of Directors has announced the generous donation of $4.5 million from a group of donors comprised of The Goatie Foundation, Roberta and David Elliott, and Helen and Peter Bing.

The gift answers a challenge issued 10 years ago when Jo Lynn Allen of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, the lead donor for the construction of OSF’s New Theatre, passed on the opportunity to name the theatre, issuing the requirement for other donors to make a significant contribution to secure the naming rights. The combined gift from the above group of donors meets the Allens’ threshold, and gives them the naming rights.

At the request of the group of donors, in 2013 the New Theatre will officially become the Thomas Theatre, in honor of longtime OSF Development Director Peter D. Thomas, who died in March 2010. The donor affiliated with The Goatie Foundation had the original impulse to honor Thomas’s legacy and reached out to the other two supporters to join her in naming the New Theatre in Thomas’s honor.

The President of The Goatie Foundation said “For many OSF patrons, Peter was our personal connection to the art and the artists at OSF. His kind spirit and dedication to the audience made us feel part of the OSF family. My love of Peter combined with my passion for the work on stage inspired this gift.”

The gift of $4.5 million will support the OSF Artistic Opportunities Fund (AOF) and the creation of a new rehearsal center that will be housed in the current OSF production building on Second Street in downtown Ashland.

The new facility will be named the Hay Patton Rehearsal Center in honor of Senior Scenic and Theatre Designer Richard L. Hay, a 55-year veteran of the company, and OSF’s first general manager and executive director William Patton, who died in January 2011.

Rudd Johnson, President of OSF’s Board of Directors, said, “On behalf of the Board of Directors, we deeply appreciate the generosity, vision and support of this group of donors. Their love of OSF is matched by the spirit, commitment and passion of the remarkable company members for whom the New Theatre and the future Rehearsal Center will be named.”

The transformation of the current OSF production building into the new rehearsal center is contingent on OSF finding a new location for its production building. Various possibilities continue to be explored for the location of the new building.

The Artistic Opportunity Fund

The Artistic Opportunity Fund (AOF) exists to support both the art and the company of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It was established in 2008 through the wisdom and generosity of a small group of long-time OSF supporters. They understood that new thinking and substantial financial support would be required for OSF to continue to produce the highest quality work on stage, realize new artistic initiatives, and support the OSF Company during the economic downturn. The AOF, which exists as a multi-million dollar discretionary fund, is separate from annual operating support and has given Festival leaders the confidence to plan for bold and expansive seasons that reflect the Festival’s vision. Examples of its use are the support of the 14 piece orchestra for The Pirates of Penzance and the inclusion of larger cast plays in the New Theatre such as 2009’s Ruined.

Production Building and Rehearsal Center

Following the completion of an extensive space planning study in 2011, the Festival determined that it needs to remedy some very serious space challenges if it is still to be able to create its art at the highest level, support teachers and students and provide effective working conditions for its production staff.  A new production building will allow staff to fully assemble sets and work through all technical complexities before sets are moved into the theatres and, most importantly, provide the necessary space for designers and artisans to fully realize their vision. Accordingly, the Board agreed that it would move forward on two key, interlocking projects – the construction of a new production building and the renovation of the existing production building into a rehearsal center.

The proposed 60,000 square foot production building will house the scenery construction department, scenery paint shop, the props department, storage for costume, scenery and props and the Festival’s costume rental business.  At present these functions are spread out among three different buildings and significant efficiencies will be accomplished by having them all under one roof.  Various sites are currently being considered.

Once the new production building is constructed, the conversion of the current production building on the edge of the OSF campus will commence.  This renovation will enable all of the Festival’s rehearsal activities to be brought together.  We expect to be able to construct three main rehearsal halls, each approximately 3,000 square feet, and a number of smaller rehearsal rooms for singing, dancing and text work.

Once the rehearsal center is completed and the current rehearsal spaces vacated, the Festival’s extensive education programs will finally have dedicated space in which to present their workshops, classes and presentations.

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