Artistic Director Nataki Garrett resigns from Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Nataki Garrett quit her job as Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival on Friday. After four years as the leader of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Garrett is leaving the group.

OSF Board Member Octavio Solis will step in to help the artistic leadership team and find a new artistic head during the transition, according to the festival. Solis lives in Medford, where he writes and directs plays.

Paul Christy, who is the president of the OSF Endowment Board, said that Solis would help the group keep going without stopping the current season.

Artistic Director Nataki Garrett resigns from Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Christy said, “Having Octavio here is like the best thing that could happen, since he’s been on stage, behind the scenes, and hired directors.” “He knows everything about how the shows are put together and how they work.”

Garrett’s resignation comes at the same time as a campaign to raise money to save the current theater season and the group itself, which are both struggling financially.

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Garrett didn’t say why he was leaving the group in a statement that was already written.

Garrett said, “Our business is at a turning point where old ways of doing business need to change if our theaters are to stay open.” “But these problems also present great chances to rebuild in a way that reflects where we are now and where we want to be in the future, with actors, staff, audiences, and creative leaders who represent the rich diversity of our country. This is what gets me excited. I came here to do this work.”

OSF is trying to raise $2.5 million so that no jobs will be lost and the 2023 season can be finished. The group has already stopped planning for the 2024 season until the fundraising campaign is over. By the end of the month, they should know what to do next for this season.

This week, The Oregonian was the first to report that the theater had already received more than $1.4 million in donations and wanted to raise the remaining $2.5 million by mid-July.

OSF was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Garrett led the group through layoffs, reorganizations, and fundraisers to keep the 88-year-old theater alive.

Artistic Director Nataki Garrett resigns from Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Garrett was the first Black woman to run a theater as an art director. Last year, she also said that when she lived in Ashland, she got death threats and racist comments. Because of the threats, she had to travel with a security team.

The theater is one of the most important cultural sites in Southern Oregon. In a statement, Diane Yu, who is the chair of the OSF Board of Directors, praised Garrett’s efforts to support performance spaces and promote equality and diversity at the organization.

Yu said, “The Board is grateful to Nataki for his work to improve theater and for extending OSF’s leadership in the theater community across the country.”

Endowment Board President Christy says that Garrett’s leaving gives the festival a chance to look at its core services and values.

“Nataki has had a lot of good ideas that we haven’t been able to act on,” he said. “Should we have shown all year long? Should we put on Christmas shows?”

Christy said that Garrett tried to bring in new and younger people to the theater, and he thinks that’s something they should keep doing.

Both Yu and Garrett turned down offers to talk to reporters.

Source- Oregon Public Broadcasting Department

Louis Ebert

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