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A sad, seemingly inevitable truth was reached late last week when the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Nataki Garrett, announced the 2020 is being cancelled.

The Festival closed in early March, shortly after its opening weekend. Garrett said it had been hoped the Festival could resume with an abbreviated season resuming in September, but the Festival decided to remain dark following last week’s announcement by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown that large gatherings be placed on hold.

“Since our shutdown in March, we have been hard at work to reopen our 2020 season in September and welcome you back to our spaces,” Garrett said in a prepared statement. “But as you might have seen, Governor Brown announced a detailed plan to reopen Oregon, which includes an extension of the restrictions on mass gatherings, including theatre, through at least the end of September. This made our choice clear: As of today, we must cancel the remainder of our 2020 season.”

In making the decision, Garrett said “the decision was made to prioritize the health and safety of our artists, our staff, and all of you, our treasured audience. And we must do everything in our power to ensure that our beloved 85-year-old Festival is still here and thriving in Ashland.”

She noted the Festival is a major economic engine for southern Oregon, bringing more than $120 million annually to local businesses, noting, “they are struggling now as well. So it’s all the more important that we return strong.”

Various options are available for ticket holders, and she said detailed information will be provided. “We appreciate your patience, and we hope you will consider donating your ticket to OSF or converting it into a voucher that you can use for a future performance or Membership. Ticket donations and vouchers represent an investment in a viable OSF, the communities of Ashland and the Rogue Valley, and the importance of art and storytelling in a post-pandemic world.”

Garrett said it’s hoped people will consider donating to the Festival’s relief campaign, “Dare to Dream.”

Thank you for your continued love and support of OSF,” Garret said. “We know we’re not alone in this. For many of you, and so many in the world, this pandemic crisis has been a difficult time that reaches far beyond a canceled season at a theatre. And when the time comes for us to gather, I know the transformational power of art will be more important than ever. We cannot wait to have you in our theatres again soon, to celebrate the exceptional art that can only happen at OSF.”