Press Releases

Statement in Support of Oregon Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Nataki Garrett

Statement by Ravi Rajan, CalArts President, and Travis Preston, Dean of the School of Theater and Artistic Director of the CalArts Center for New Performance

The space of art is one that, at its best, leads society into seeing its own future. While change is difficult, it is essential to our democratic ideals of free expression, and we must remain open to new perspectives in artmaking.

The overt racism and threats of violence faced by Nataki Garrett, the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, are wholly unacceptable. The less-overt but deeply biased overtures regarding her leadership are equally reprehensible. We fully and unequivocally support Nataki’s work—from her time as a CalArts student, to when she returned as a faculty member, and when she was a leader serving as associate dean of the School of Theater and associate artistic director of CalArts Center for New Performance. We condemn in the strongest terms those who target Black women in leadership, seek to foment terror, and suppress change. 

Nataki is a visionary leader—reimagining the American theater with new thinking, diverse artists, and bold storytelling. By expanding the vision and voices of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, she offers audiences more, not less. 

Those who have directed death threats at Nataki have sunken to the deepest depths of the river of poison that flows through society. However, these agents are no match for the many artists, organizations, and creative spaces who continue to speak out against such hatred.

As CalArtians, we will continue to work alongside Nataki and her colleagues towards a more inclusive, diverse, and accessible arts community. 

We encourage you to show your support through messages to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and their social media channels, to Ashland.News, and to The Oregonian newspaper. 

The CalArts community of artists stands with Nataki.

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) has set the pace for educating professional artists since 1970. Offering rigorous undergraduate and graduate degree programs through six schools—Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music, and Theater—CalArts has championed creative excellence, critical reflection, and the development of new forms and expressions. As successive generations of faculty and alumni have helped shape the landscape of contemporary arts, the Institute first envisioned by Walt Disney encompasses a vibrant, eclectic community with global reach, inviting experimentation, independent inquiry, and active collaboration and exchange among artists, artistic disciplines, and cultural traditions.