Arts & Culture

Much Ado About an Essential Arts Program

Grantee Spotlight: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The Allen family has a long history with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which started as a family tradition back when Paul Allen and Jody Allen were young. Every year, their parents would pack them up and make the long drive down to Ashland, Oregon to watch Shakespeare classics performed in front of a rapt audience. Since then, the Allen family has continued a decades-long legacy of support. The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation grants have helped construct key facilities and produce programs that continue to make the Oregon Shakespeare Festival one of the most prominent festivals of its kind in the world.

To date, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has awarded over $11 million to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, making our foundation one of the festival’s leading donors and the festival our biggest arts recipient.

Paul and Jody have continued their involvement in more personal ways, with Jody serving as a member of the festival’s Board of Directors from 1996 to 2005 and again from 2006 to 2010, and Paul loaning his 1623 Dryden-Puleston-Bemis copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, Published according to the True Originall Copies, to the Festival for viewing tours and special educational events. This complete Folio is one of the two finest copies remaining in private hands. 

In October 2013, we built on our support for the festival’s incredible work over the years with a new grant of $3 million to rename the Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavilion as the Allen Elizabethan Theatre.


This new award was designed to support a broad array of priority areas for OSF, such as funding the work on the stage, maintaining and restoring the organization’s buildings, attracting visitors to experience live theater, in addition to other needs of the organization to help it continue thriving into the future.

At the time of the award, Paul praised the organization, commenting: “OSF masterfully makes the classics relevant to new generations and introduces compelling contemporary work. OSF has been an Allen family tradition for many decades and we’re proud to support this exceptional theater group.”

Every year, thousands of theatergoers from all over come to soak in the magic and mystery of live theater and experience some of the most incredible and awe-inspiring storytelling in the history of the world. We’re proud to be part of such an iconic legacy. We hope this latest award will continue to enhance this experience, and look forward to continuing to support this type of enriching local arts programming for years to come.