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Oregon Shakespeare Festival Receives $200,000 NEH Grant to Digitize Archives

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has announced a three-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) of $200,000 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, which are documented in an extensive audiovisual collection. The deteriorating reel-to-reel tapes, 8mm and 16mm films and other aging and obsolete audiovisual formats are the cornerstone of the Archives and in immediate need of digitization. Seventy-five percent of the collection is unusable until now 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 for the first time.

"I am proud to be part of an organization that has been influential in state, regional and national arts and culture in America," said OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch. "As a frequent user of the Archives, I know first hand that it is a rich source of information about Shakespeare in performance, theatre production history, arts management and administration, theatre-based educational programming and how an arts organization can become a critical economic engine for a community. 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, theatre artists and theatre-lovers."

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. theatre 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. In one of the project's results, researchers and listeners will be able to hear via the Internet, on OSF's website, or by visiting the Archives, the entire Shakespearean canon three times over in a rich variety of OSF interpretations, with exemplary casts and 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 about NEH grant awards go to:

"Digitizing and Creating Access to the Audiovisual Collection in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Archives" is made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities."

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