OSF receives $10M grant, one of its largest donations ever

ASHLAND, Ore. —The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is celebrating Wednesday after getting a massive gift. OSF is getting one of its largest donations ever. The $10 million gift will be paid over the next 5 years. That’s how long the executive director says it’ll take to recover from the pandemic.

“I don’t know that I could articulately say how important this gift is,” said OSF Executive Director, David Schmitz.

A $10 million gift, that represents a step toward recovery for OSF following a difficult few years.  It’s all thanks to the Hitz Foundation, run by OSF board member Dave Hitz. The private family foundation has supported various projects in arts, science, and the environment worldwide.

“They have been a longtime contributor to OSF they were one of the initial funders that created the play on Shakespeare program that now has its own organization and they are incredible supporters of the arts,” said Schmitz.

Schmitz says like many the pandemic has not been kind to his industry. The theatre company had to lay off 90% of its staff and was shut down for 18 months, on top of dealing with issues of inflation and the supply chain.

“Dave’s team at the foundation I think really believes that they can be a catalyst toward other donations as we are trying to fill the whole that’s been created by this pandemic,” said Schmitz.

The $10 million contribution will go to supporting OSF’s recovery and shift to vitality over the course of the next 5 years.  Schmidtz says it’s a vote of confidence to continue to grow OSF’s vision for the future. It allows OSF to continue what it does best.

“It is supporting our annual operations and making it so that we can continue to operate as an organization, we are also investing in some of our buildings also trying to come out of this with a cash reserve that puts us in a stronger place and allows us to be more adaptable in some of the issues we are all dealing with,” said Schmitz.

Since it was founded in 2000, the Hitz Foundation granted $80 million to over 200 different organizations.

NBC5 News Reporter Jenna King is a Burbank native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at the U of O, she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through interning with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors, or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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