The Oregon Shakespeare Festival announced Friday that its artistic director, Bill Rauch, will be leaving after 13 years.
Rauch is moving to New York to become the first artistic director of the Perelman Center for Performing Arts at the World Trade Center.
Rauch became OSF’s fifth artistic director in 2007 after several seasons as a guest director, and his accomplishments have moved the festival into the center of the national theater conversation.
Rauch’s commitment with collaborator Alison Carey to commissioning 37 new plays to dramatize moments in American history led to the Festival’s first Tony Award in 2014 for “All The Way,” which Rauch directed. He also helped launch “Play On!,” a program that encourages artists and translators to create modern versions of Shakespeare’s plays.
Rauch worked hard to increase diversity at OSF. He produced a record number of performances written and directed by women and artists of color, and has shifted hiring practices at OSF to seek out a wider breadth of candidates.
Christopher Acebo, the associate artistic director at OSF told OPB that more than 50 percent of OSF’s acting company is made up of people of color.
“I think if you look at the programming, the plays we’ve produced, the commissioning process, the level or artistry and people [Rauch has] brought here, it’s been pretty extraordinary,” Acebo said.
In a press release from the festival, Rauch acknowledged that leaving was not easy.
“Leaving OSF and this amazing company has been one of the most difficult decisions of my life,” he said.
Rauch will stay in his role until August 2019. In the next few weeks, OSF will begin searching for his replacement.
“Ultimately I think it’s an opportunity. But these are also big shoes to fill,” Acebo said, referring to Rauch. “He’s made quite a big impact in the community, the field and here at the festival.”