Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

By
Sheila Bonini, Emily Knapp, William Meehan III
2002|Case No.SM104

Paul Nicholson, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) Executive Director, announced that he would retire at the end of the 2012 season, after a 32-year tenure at OSF. His successor, only the third in 77 years of existence, would take over during the final year of the 2009-2013 Long Range Plan, creating great uncertainty as well as great opportunity.

OSF is an arts organization that defies trends. It achieves high artistic quality, attendance, and financial stability, despite presenting challenging, classical material 280 miles from the nearest urban center. However, it is also a company whose core strengths—rotating repertory, longevity in staff—can also work against innovation. To determine focus, OSF goes through a strategic planning process every five years, often bringing about large-scale change.

This case describes the planning process for the 2009-13 Oregon Shakespeare Festival Long Range Plan. It explores challenges around innovation and leadership transitions that the executive team faced, and how OSF moved forward despite a strategic plan that was lacking. As the final year of the plan approaches, OSF must determine what it wants in and hire a new Executive Director, a major milestone for the organization, while simultaneously designing the next long range plan.

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