Riley Risso Coker, producing director for OSF, said she learned in March that OSF would not receive its $100,000 funding from the Oklahoma Department of Tourism due to budget cutbacks because of a financial shortfall.
“This came down over spring break and it just totally blindsided us,” Coker said. “We knew we were going to lose some money but did not know we would not get anything.”
Coker said OSF will be scaling back, but only one show in June will be eliminated; they are also looking at ways to reduce costs.
“We will be using a lot of talent around this area, and a lot of the artists said they would come for a much-reduced rate,” she said.
“We will be scaling back production costs. Instead of building every costume from scratch, we are going to use some from our costume collection. A lot of people may not know it, but we have a huge collection of costumes in the theatre department.”
The $100,000 from the tourism department made up a little under half of OSF’s total budget, according to Coker.
The rest of the funding comes from donations, ticket sales, tuition for the children’s theatre and teen theatre workshops, and the after-school program held during the school year.
“We want the public to be made aware of the situation and are hoping the citizens of the community will step up and make donations,” Coker said.
“We are in no way blaming the department of tourism. I know that the state of Oklahoma is having a much bigger problem and is trying desperately to survive.”
The festival was founded by the late Molly Risso, Riley’s mother, and has been producing Broadway musicals, classical theatre, contemporary theatre, Shakespearean plays and a children’s theatre workshop for more than 30 years.
Season tickets are now on sale and, if purchased before June 1, the cost is $50. After June 1, a season ticket costs $55.
To make ticket reservations, or to make a donation, contact the OSF offices at (580) 745-2712.