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OSF announces new executive director, fundraising updates

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Allen Elizabethan Theatre, featuring a production of <em>A Midsummer Night's Dream.</em>
T. Charles Erickson
Courtesy of Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Allen Elizabethan Theatre, featuring a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Hokama is an Ashland resident who was formerly a technology and business operations executive, including working at the computer software company Adobe for a decade. He took over his new role on Thursday.

Interim Development Director Kamilah Long said OSF is looking forward to Hokama’s leadership.

"We're so excited to have an interim executive director to help us establish some of these goals and address some of the issues, maybe the internal, and put us on the right path as well. So I'm personally very excited about that," she said.

"[Hokama] will help us in numerous ways — to revamp our finance operations; develop a more sustainable business model; foster relationships with local businesses, audiences, and donors; and strengthen our fragile infrastructure," OSF Board Chair Diane Yu said in a press release.

"OSF has grown up to be one of the largest regional theatres in the country without bringing along systems and processes to support it," Hokama said in the press release. "We need to stabilize that so we can support our fundamental operations, as all businesses our size should. The other challenge is that we need to improve the business model so that it is viable for the long-term."

OSF’s former Executive Director David Schmitz left in January and was replaced by Artistic Director Nataki Garrett. She was relieved of that role in April and then resigned from the company last month after four years.

OSF also announced on Thursday that the emergency fundraising campaign it launched in April, called The Show Must Go On, has been successful, raising over $2.8 million.

However, the future of the 2023 and 2024 seasons is still uncertain. OSF is now moving into another phase of fundraising as it tries to raise an additional $7.3 million by October 31, "which will allow OSF to complete its season as planned," according to the press release.

Long said that money is part of OSF’s normal annual fundraising and ticket sales goal, which will also be used to keep the theatre’s seasons going.

"I wouldn't say that people would have to be worried about us as much for 2023, but for 2024, we have a lot of work to do. We do. We have a lot of work to do. And we we are moving in the right direction," she said.

OSF had announced in April that the planning for the 2024 season was on hold, pending the results of the emergency fundraising campaign. According to a press release sent out then, there was “a gap in OSF’s funding between May and July of this year.”

The company will announce additional specific fundraising goals for next year’s season later this summer, after the nonprofit’s annual budget has been completed.

"This campaign, The Show Must Go On, has been a success in making sure that we launched this season, and there's much more fundraising to go," Long said.

OSF was hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and never fully recovered. The 89-year-old theater is the primary cultural attraction in Southern Oregon, and in March 2020, as the reality of the pandemic became apparent, the company shuttered its productions and laid off 400 staff, about 80% of its total workforce.
Copyright 2023 Jefferson Public Radio.

Jane Vaughan