ASHLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is entering a new era this summer as newly hired Artistic Director, Tim Bond is visiting OSF this week before joining the company full time this September. Bond and Interim Executive Director, Tyler Hokama sat down for an interview to talk a little bit about themselves and their plans for the festival.
Bond’s love of theatre began at an early age and he vividly remembers what sparked that fire.
“So in 4th grade, I was working on Julius Caesar, and I had the speech, ‘friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears,’ and the audience leaned in, and everything got really quiet. And I suddenly had this realization of the power of speech in front of the public, and history,” Bond said. “You know, it’s the moment after Julius Caesar’s been assassinated. And then it hit me that just three weeks earlier, Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. This was 1968. And I choked up. And I realized the power of poetry and I thought, wow, I think I want to do this.”
For Bond, OSF is a homecoming. From 1996 to 2007, he served as OSF’s Associate Artistic Director. Since then, he’s continued working in the theatre business in Syracuse, Seattle and currently with ‘Theatreworks Silicon Valley. But in the end, he couldn’t pass up a chance to come back to Ashland. He plans to put an emphasis on increasing the public’s access to the arts, while focusing on education and mentorship.
“The opportunity appeared for me to come back to Oregon Shakespeare Festival as Artistic Director, and I jumped on the train,” Bond laughed.
Bond is joining the company at a unique time as the nearly 90 year old institution works to bounce back from Covid restrictions and financial struggles. Early this year, it underwent a restructuring. Executive Director David Schimtz resigned and some staff were laid off. Then in May, Artistic Director Nataki Garrett resigned.
Since then ODF announced it had raised the $2.5 million it needed to continue into the summer season.
“Things are really looking up financially for us,” Bond said. “But we still have many challenges ahead. And so we’re looking at a slightly more austere season, to be really responsible for ourselves fiscally, and to stay within our means.”
“We’re constantly working on our fundraising, it’s very important for any nonprofit theater,” Hokama said. “For me, it’s important that we are able to get the fundraising for our 2024 season. We had a campaign early in the season and it was a $2.5 million target, which we exceeded, I think we’re closer to $3 million for that campaign.”
Hokama, who just started last month, is putting much of his focus on OSF’s finances.
Before moving to Ashland in 2016, Hokama worked in marketing for major tech companies, like Adobe Systems in Silicon Valley.
But with his passion for Ashland and OSF, Hokama wanted to bring his finance and marketing expertise to OSF.
“I retired in Ashland because I’ve been coming here for 19 seasons now and every year I’m always amazed by how much Ashland has to offer,” Hokama said.
And even though Bond and Hokama just met this week, they appear to be working toward a promising partnership.
“The other day, we were at an event, and one of the donor’s children was having a birthday and we spontaneously all broke into ‘Happy Birthday.’ And at the end, Tyler and I sang the same harmony at the end,” Bond laughed. “So I knew when that happened, that we were in sync with each other.”
Both Bond and Hokama say they are taking things slow to ensure they’re making the best decisions for the company.
The 20-23 season wraps up this October.
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