Nataki Garrett Takes the Helm as Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Nataki Garrett. (Photo by Bill Geenen)

Nataki Garrett. (Photo by Bill Geenen)

by Sarah Greenman

Today, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) announced Nataki Garrett as their sixth artistic director. Garrett, who is directing How to Catch Creation in the current season, will succeed Bill Rauch in August 2019.

Just five months ago, Nataki Garrett delivered an urgent call to action at Statera’s National Conference, “We women have a responsibility to use our leadership opportunities to evolve this industry and to evolve the theater into what it was created for. One that is inclusive, tolerant, and equal. One where equity, diversity, and inclusion are not buzzwords we toss around to prove our level of wokeness but a commitment to our highest level of engagement to save our field, our communities, and the world.”

Founded in 1935, OSF is among the oldest and largest professional non-profit theatres in the nation. Operating on a budget exceeding $44 million, OSF presents more than 780 performances annually with attendance of approximately 400,000. Garrett takes the helm at a crucial moment in the theatre’s history. This year alone, OSF experienced a $2 million loss due to wild fires and is also contending with extensive staff turnover. Now, more than ever, the national arts community must lean in and support Garrett’s transition.

Garrett said it best during her keynote address at StateraCon, “There is no doubt that this rising force of Women will need our support and guidance to succeed in these tumultuous times. It’s not enough to say on social media that you are happy for them. WE, in this room must pledge active support for them. They will need it if they are going to shelter our beloved field through this crazy time.”

Nataki Garrett speaking at Statera’s National Conference in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill.)

Nataki Garrett speaking at Statera’s National Conference in Milwaukee. (Photo by Malloree Delayne Hill.)

StateraArts is dedicated to bringing women* into full and equal participation in the arts. And we pledge the full weight of our resources and collective energy in support of Nataki Garret at OSF. We celebrate the rising tide of new leadership in the American Theatre and will continue to work every day to ensure their success. Among them are Hana Sharif at St. Louis Repertory Theatre, Stephanie Ybarra at Baltimore Center Stage, Maria Manuela Goyanes at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Robert Barry Flemming at the Humana Festival, Pam McKinnon at American Conservatory Theatre, Johanna Pfaelzer at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Marissa Wolf at Portland Center Stage, and Weyni Mengesha at Soulpepper in Toronto.

In a statement released by OSF, Garrett said, “I am absolutely thrilled to be named incoming artistic director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival and it is an honor and privilege to inherit such a wonderfully rich and dynamic legacy of artistic excellence in partnership with a dedicated board, staff, company and local community. I am equally excited and inspired by OSF’s dedication to expanding our worldview and look forward to maintaining our commitment to the revolutionary spirit of Shakespeare and classical text, while continuing to explore and expand opportunities for new voices and narratives through new play development.” 

Today, StateraArts celebrates this incredible moment in American Theatre history, but we are also deeply aware that it did not come easy. Statera’s Executive Director and co-founder Melinda Pfundstein says, “Doors did not merely swing open. This is a result of breaking down outdated habits and systems, changing minds and hearts, crashing through broken entryways and prohibitive glass ceilings, and forging new pathways. We are celebrating today and getting back to work.”

Want to know more about Nataki Garrett? Read her April 2018 interview with StateraArts and the transcript of her keynote address at Statera’s 2018 National Conference in Milwaukee.


*A NOTE ON INCLUSION AT STATERA

Women: Statera recognizes the limiting nature of the binary use of woman. We serve and welcome anyone on the gender spectrum who identifies either always or some of the time as a woman. We also serve and welcome those who identify as non-binary. 

Intersectionality: StateraArts works through an intersectional lens for gender parity. We understand and acknowledge that systems of oppression and discrimination are interdependent and span all social categorizations such as race, class, gender, ability, parental status, size, age, and sexual orientation as they apply to a given individual or group. Addressing one spoke of systematic discrimination or disadvantage means holistically addressing them all.