Oregon Shakespeare Festival lays off 16, citing wildfire losses

Oregon Shakespeare Festival lays off 16, citing wildfire losses

04 October 2018

Published by https://www.oregonlive.com/

USA – The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has laid off 16 employees in response to “significant financial losses” from this summer’s wildfire season, according to the Medford Mail-Tribune.

The Ashland arts organization declined to identify the laid-off employees or their job titles. According to the Mail-Tribune, the festival employed about 575 theater professionals in early 2017 but laid off a dozen later that year, also due to wildfire-related losses.

The Associated Press reported last month that canceled performances had cost the Ashland-based organization $2 million. The festival had to cancel 26 outdoor performances starting in July, according to The AP. The festival also canceled its free outdoor Green Show in August for the rest of the season.

Julie Cortez, a spokeswoman for the festival, told The Oregonian/OregonLive in August that after a couple of years with no wildfire complications, this year was the second season the festival had canceled outdoor performances. “It means a lot of lost revenue and ticket sales,” Cortez said, adding that last season, the average loss per canceled performance was around $40,000.

In addition, would-be theatergoers are starting to avoid Ashland during wildfire season — Cortez said the festival is starting to see a drop in ticket sales this time of year. “People are changing their patterns and have limited money and vacation time,” she said.

In response, the festival plans to start its outdoor season earlier next year, opening at the end of May. It’s also looking at upgrading its outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theater, possibly with a retractable roof.

According to the festival’s 2017 annual report, 110,204 people attended plays at the Elizabethan last summer, making up about a quarter of the festival’s total attendance. Plays brought in nearly $22 million, the vast majority of the festival’s $26 million in 2017 operating revenue.

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