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Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Grant Helps Digitize 77-Year-Old Archives

Oregon Shakespeare Festival logoThe Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland has received a three-year grant of $200,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for “Digitizing and Creating Access to the Audiovisual Collection in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Archives.”

The grant will enable OSF to preserve and make public the work of its founders, artists, and innovators documented in an extensive but aging audiovisual collection. The deteriorating reel-to-reel tapes, 8mm and 16mm films, and other obsolete audiovisual formats are the cornerstone of the Archives and in immediate need of digitization. Seventy-five percent of the collection has been unusable due to preservation concerns and technological obsolescence. With digitization, these 2,655 at-risk tapes, films, and videos will be preserved for future use and available to the public for the first time.

"It is a relief and a joy to know that this history will not be lost, but recovered and used by many future students, scholars, researchers, theater artists, and theater-lovers,” OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch said in a press release. “As a frequent user of the Archives, I know firsthand that it is a rich source of information about Shakespeare in performance, theatre production history, arts management and administration, theater-based educational programming, and how an arts organization can become a critical economic engine for a community."

The audiovisual collection spans the 77-year history of the Festival and comprises an unparalleled and comprehensive record of Shakespearean and theatrical performance by a single U.S. theater company. The collection contains a rich variety of research and educational opportunities for a wide audience. Within its holdings are full-length recordings of every Festival production since 1950, with the exception of just 29. One of the project’s goals is to allow researchers and other listeners to hear via the OSF website or by visiting the archives in person the entire Shakespearean canon three times over in a rich variety of interpretations by exemplary casts before live audiences, whose reactions are an essential part of the audio experience.

The production recordings are supplemented by recordings of 44 adaptations for radio broadcast, artist interviews (in more than 100 hours of oral histories), Shakespeare lectures by nationally and internationally renowned scholars and educators, production music, promotional recordings, and recordings of significant events in the company’s history.

For more information about NEH grant awards, go to www.neh.gov/news/press-release/2013-04-09.

July 3, 2013

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