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Oregon Shakespeare Festival names new Executive Director

David Schmitz will be the fourth executive director for OSF beginning in fall of 2020, the organization said in a statement,

Posted: May 22, 2020 2:44 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has chosen a new executive director to lead the embattled organization as it moves forward past a year of performances shuttered by coronavirus concerns, alongside artistic director Nataki Garrett.

On Friday, OSF put out a statement naming David Schmitz as its fourth executive director, beginning in fall of this year. The last full executive director, Cynthia Rider, held the position from 2013 through 2018. Paul Christy has been helming OSF in the interim.


RELATED: Oregon Shakespeare Festival cancels remainder of 2020 season


Schmitz has spent the past 15 years working at the famed Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago — working his way up to executive director of the venue. 

“The OSF Board of Directors is enormously pleased that David Schmitz will join us in September as our new executive director,” said Diane Yu, OSF board chair and chairperson of the executive search committee. “He is a consummate professional who has impressive breadth and depth of experience in all phases of theatre management—from finance to marketing to development to operations to community relations to theatre building.”

Schmitz joins artistic director Nataki Garrett in leading OSF, focusing on the organization's philanthropic ties, supporting the artistic and education programming, and overseeing the administrative aspects of the Festival.

“David’s reputation and accomplishments working with theatre makers, artists, patrons, and partners in the arts, combined with an extraordinary sense for community building, precede him,” said Garrett. “I’m grateful for the breadth of experience he brings to OSF through a variety of pivotal leadership roles critical to ensuring the future of this organization for many years to come, including our current top priority to return transformative theatre to our stages in 2021.”


RELATED: OSF launches $5 million fundraising campaign to endure coronavirus shutdown


OSF cited Schmitz successes at Steppenwolf, which include growth in annual fundraising, and important partnerships with national foundations.

“I am thrilled to be named incoming executive director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and to begin this extraordinary partnership with Nataki Garrett, the OSF Board, its artists, staff, volunteers, and the entire community of Ashland, the Rogue Valley, and Southern Oregon,” said David Schmitz. “I’m equally inspired by the legacy and dedication of OSF’s audience, patrons, and supporters to become their partner at this unprecedented time in the world of live theatre.”

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