OSF trims $650K from 2009 budget

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is reducing its 2009 budget by $650,000, festival officials announced Friday. The cut is on top of a $1 million reduction announced in October.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival Executive Director Paul Nicholson and Artistic Director Bill Rauch informed the company Friday about the decision.

In October, $1 million was trimmed from the initial 2009 budget that OSF's Board of Directors had approved a month earlier, but after reviewing 2009 presale ticket sales trends and taking into account the continued economic downturn, further cuts were deemed necessary, according to festival officials.

"We are still optimistic that 2009 will be a very successful season, both artistically and attendance-wise," Nicholson said in a Friday press release.

"We are tentatively projecting that we will run at 81 percent of capacity, or approximately 375,000 tickets sold. This would still make 2009 one of our top seven seasons from an attendance point of view. Our membership responded very positively during presale, and a survey of those who have not ordered yet indicates that the majority of them hope to come next season. However, ticket sales are still projected to be about 5 percent below budget," he said.

Ticket sales represent only a portion of the revenue the festival needs to meet its budget goals, festival officials said. Contributed income is a significant portion as well, and donations across all categories are down, according to festival officials.

In addition, with the continued volatility of the stock market, OSF anticipates declines in the payout from its endowment fund and other investments in 2009.

The latest budget cuts trim the 2009 OSF budget to $24.9 million.

Areas where reductions in expenses will occur include shortened employment contracts, elimination of some positions, and further reduction in materials and support services.

"It's tremendously difficult to deal with such a challenging financial environment, but I want our audiences to know the quality of our work will never be compromised," Rauch said in the release. "We continue to rely on the loyalty and generosity of our audiences, and we in turn will honor them with passionate, provocative theatre."

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