Oregon Shakespeare Festival shatters records for attendance and revenue

| Print |  Email
The Latest
Tuesday, November 02, 2010

By Jacq Lacy

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has closed its 75th Anniversary year with record attendance and revenue numbers. Despite the rainy Oregon summer and the weak economy, the OSF sold 414,783 tickets (94% of capacity) and earned $18.5 million, an increase of 8% over 2009.

“These numbers are immensely gratifying, especially in light of the ongoing economic challenges facing our country and our audiences,” Executive Director Paul Nicholson said in a statement.

Amy Richard, media and communications manager for the OSF attributed the record sales to “a schedule of 11 plays that received incredible word of mouth, and very positive notices from critics,” as well as quality production values and acting, a strong marketing campaign and loyal audiences.

“We have a lot of anecdotes from visitors stating, ‘We have to give up something this year because of the poor economy, but we’re not giving up this,’” Nicholson said, referring to the effort the OSF has made over the past five years to build strong ties between patrons and OSF staff and actors. This marketing strategy Nicholson says has kept theatergoers coming back year after year.

Artistic Director Bill Rauch produced on the Elizabethan Stage productions of “Twelfth Night,” which sold at 98% of capacity, and “The Merchant of Venice,” closing at 92% of capacity.

The Elizabethan outdoor stage brought in approximately $5.3 million this summer. Despite wet outdoor conditions, the OSF has not had to cancel any shows over the past two years due to rain or weather. Although rain appeared during many of the days, by night the skies had usually cleared and the OSF provided patrons with paper towels to dry off their seats.

This year’s festival, sponsored by U.S. Bank, also showcased a world premiere commission: “American Night: The Ballad of Juan José,” the first production of the “American Revolutions: the United States History Cycle,” which sold at 99% of capacity.

Shows in the Angus Bowmer Theatre did not fall below 95% of capacity and both performances in the New Theatre showed ticket sales of 93% and 94%.

OSF also strengthened its audience development this year through local incentive programs and online ticket sales. More than half (52%) of the year’s revenues came from online ticket sales. 

Traditionally 85% of OSF’s audiences journey from outside the Rogue Valley. But due to new discount programs, the number of local patrons has grown by approximately 4%. The 19.35 Program, catering to audience members between 19 and 35 years of age, has increased ten-fold in the past three years. 

The OSF also put together an annual Open House and CultureFest to increase marketing to new audiences, especially to Latino families in the region with five Spanish performances. An e-newsletter allows all patrons to stay connected and to receive special programming offers.

The successful season gave a sizable boost to the Southern Oregon economy.

Diarnuid McGuire, owner of Green Springs Inn in the Siskiyou Forest, had one of the best summers ever due to new cabins and an influx of tourists, many who visit the festival despite a 17-mile drive.

“I talked to people and they might have gone to Hawaii or Tahiti, but I think the bad economy effects them psychologically," said McGuire. "Coming to Ashland doesn’t involve a lot of travel expense... They don’t like to think they are spending a lot of money in a difficult economy.”

The Holiday Inn Express Ashland, the Ashland Springs Hotel, Columbia Hotel and the Econo Lodge, all within closer proximity to the festival, witnessed an extremely busy summer and recorded increases in reservations.

The 2011 season officially opens on February 25 and 26 with Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” and the new adaptation of Molière’s “The Imaginary Invalid.”

Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance” will open the outdoor Elizabethan Stage the weekend of June 10-12. That performance will mark the first time the OSF has performed a classic musical with a 14-piece band outdoors.

Jacq Lacy is an associate writer with Oregon Business.

 

More Articles

Wildcards

Guest Blog
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
072815fergusonthumbBY JASON NORRIS

Uncertainty in Greece and China, along with potential interest rate hikes mean investors are looking at the market and nervously questioning where they should be invested.


Read more...

Living the dream

News
Friday, August 21, 2015

smugglespearsthumbRenee Spears, founder and owner of Portland-based Rose City Mortgage, is hot to trot to sell pot.


Read more...

Unshakable

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY

Ben Kaiser holds his ground.


Read more...

Car be gone

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 06, 2015
070615car2goblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.


Read more...

Baby. Boom!

September 2015
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

A new co-working model disrupts office sharing, child care and work-life balance as we know it.


Read more...

Reader Input: School Choice

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Which of the following would be most effective in reducing the cost of operating a public university in Oregon?


Read more...

Fueling Up for the Climb

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS

Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS