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Oregon Shakespeare Festival receives $4.5-million donation

March 17, 2012 |  7:00 am

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As Shakespeare would say, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But the naming rights might cost you. 

Oregon Shakespeare Festival announced Friday that after a $4.5-million donation, the almost 80-year-old nonprofit will grant a group of donors the right to rename the New Theatre.

But the theater won't be named after the Goatie Foundation, Roberta and David Elliott or Helen and Peter Bing, who made the donation. They decided that it would be named after Peter Thomas, the late development director of the festival.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, we deeply appreciate the generosity, vision and support of this group of donors,” Rudd Johnson, president of OSF’s board of directors, said in a statement.

The pledge by the group answers a decade-old challenge.  

The lead donor for the construction of what will be known as the Thomas Theater, Jo Lynn Allen of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, declined to name the Ashland, Ore., venue after herself or her family. However, she required that other donors make a “significant contribution” to secure moniker rights, according to a news release. Apparently, the multimillion-dollar pledge met the threshold.

Peter Thomas started working with OSF in 1982 as an usher and during his 28-year tenure saw annual contributions grow from $3 million in 1997 to $7 million by 2010.

The gift will support the OSF Artistic Opportunity Fund, as well as the construction of a new rehearsal center once the organization can settle on a space.

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--Jamie Wetherbe

Photo: New Theatre in Ashland, Ore. Credit: Oregon Shakespeare Festival

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