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President Trump's Budget Plan May Hurt Shakespearean Troupe's Outreach

Jenny Graham
Oregon Shakespeare Festival

President Trump is weighing deep cuts in his budget plan, including all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).  A major theater group in Oregon fears that could affect children’s access to one of history’s greatest playwrights. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF)  in Ashland says it gets between $100,000 to $125,000 dollars annually in grant money from the NEA.  Spokesman Eddie Wallace says part of that is for what’s called the Bowmer Project.

“Which is named in honor of our founder, Angus Bowmer," explains Wallace.  "Certain schools in the area are identified as particularly in need.  And so those tickets are free for them.  

Credit Kim Budd / Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
A session in progress during the OSF Summer Seminar.

"And they also get a backstage tour, and a discussion with an actor…sort of a full experience.” 

Other students get discounted tickets.  Wallace says roughly 800 to 1000 students come to Oregon Shakespeare Festival productions every year.

“And what we always find when we ask our members or folks who come back and work for the company professionally…so many say their first experience with OSF was on a school field trip.” 

Credit Jenny Graham / Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Oregon Shakespeare Festival
A scene from OSF's 2017 production of "Henry IV".

Wallace says while the loss in NEA grant money might seem like a drop in the bucket for their $38 million budget, the outreach and influence to school kids is significant.  

Copyright 2017, KLCC. 

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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