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Executive Director's Letter 11/8/22

First things first. Have you cast your vote today? The polls will be open until 8:00 p.m., so you still have plenty of time. Few things are more important as a citizen than exercising your right to vote. If you still have questions, or need information, visit Vote 411, a site created by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters.

As a member of the Association of Performing Arts Service Organizations (APASO), GBCA has signed a letter to the editor of the Oregonian newspaper expressing our support for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s (OSF) Artistic Director, Nataki Garrett. Over the past three years, Ms. Garrett has successfully steered OSF through the pandemic and the fallout from wildfires. She has reimagined the management of the theater and its programming through a lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion. During this period, she has been met with challenges from some of her audience who were not eager for change. While it is not surprising that some donors and subscribers would voice or act on their objections, what is surprising is that the harassment escalated to include death threats. Speaking to NPR, she observed that she was the only artistic leader she knows who has to travel with a security team.

Even when trying to create change in a largely homogenous, white community, it is shocking to think that public discourse, or the lack thereof has sunk to this level. If you want to better understand the situation, take a look at Donna Walker-Kuhne’s excellent two- part post on the matter. Part One provides the background on the situation and in Part Two you can hear from Nataki Garrett herself as she is interviewed by Ms. Walker-Kuhne.

“This is my mandate. My mantle is saving OSF, stabilizing it and making it viable for the future. I will stay in leadership for as long as is necessary to achieve this goal.

I look at my time at OSF as a deployment to the front lines. Every day I wake up is a revolution because every action I take is pushing against systems created and designed to deny me the right to live on this land. Every artist, writer, or director on the stage—be they a person of color, a woman, LGBTQ or non-binary—each of us who does not exist within the cultural “status quo” are operating within this revolution.

I also believe my fellow BIPOC colleagues and I, who all happened to land at major nonprofit theaters around the same time--Actors Theater of Louisville, Long Wharf Theater, Baltimore Center Stage, Repertory Theater of St. Louis and Wolly Mammoth Theatre—must be the ones to not only ensure the future of theater, but also be the ones to make changes. I believe if I make changes here that are successfully reflective of the role of the arts to be equitable, diverse, inclusive and accessible, then no one can say it is impossible anywhere else” - Nataki Garrett.

Walker-Kuhne International, Arts and Culture Connections Blog, 11-6-22

All my best,


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