ASHLAND, Ore. — Late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen had a long and storied career in business that kicked off in the Seattle, Washington area — but his influence would come to be felt in Oregon from top-to-bottom.
Although Allen is perhaps best known in Oregon for his tenure as owner of the Portland Trail Blazers — which he bought back in 1988 — Allen was also a major patron of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) here in Southern Oregon.
“Paul and his family have been coming to OSF for decades, and Paul’s love of and support for the Festival has been essential to the art and community we create here," said OSF Communications Manager Julie Cortez.
Following a $3 million grant from the The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation in 2013, OSF renamed its Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavilion to the 'Allen Elizabethan Theatre' — the name that the building holds to this day.
"He had a particular, inspiring passion for making art and the classics relevant to young audiences," said Cortez. "Just last night we performed in the space that bears his family name – the Allen Elizabethan Theatre – for the final time this season. Our hearts go out to the Allen family.”
At the time of the donation, Allen had this to say:
“OSF masterfully makes the classics relevant to new generations and introduces compelling contemporary work,” said Paul G. Allen. “OSF has been an Allen family tradition for many decades and we’re proud to support this exceptional theater group. Without a doubt it is one of the, if not the, top drama festivals in the country.”
According to the organization, the grant would go toward funding work on the stage, maintaining and restoring the organization's buildings, and attracting more visitors to the festival.
Allen's sister Jody Allen also served on OSF's Board of Directors between 1996 and 2005, then again from 2006 to 2010.
In 2013, following the $3 million grant, OSF estimated that the Allen Family Foundation had given more than $11 million to their organization over the years.
Allen loaned his copy of the 1623 Dryden-Puleston-Bemis Shakespeare’s First Folio, Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, Published according to the True Originall Copies — one of the finest copies remaining in private hands, according to OSF — to the organization for viewing tours and special educational events. He would do this several times over the course of years.
In 2016, Allen visited OSF to mark the 400-year anniversary of Shakespeare's death, commemorating the occasion with OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch [pictured above].