Oregon Shakespeare Festival shares letter to community over raci - KPTV - FOX 12

Oregon Shakespeare Festival shares letter to community over racism concerns

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OSF company and community members prepare to march in the 2016 Ashland 4th of July Parade. (Photo by Jenny Graham/Oregon Shakespeare Festival) OSF company and community members prepare to march in the 2016 Ashland 4th of July Parade. (Photo by Jenny Graham/Oregon Shakespeare Festival)
ASHLAND, OR (KPTV) -

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is addressing concerns of racism following what the group's directors say happened to two of their actors in Ashland.

The group posted an open letter to the community on its website, where festival organizers said they hoped to join with the community to "unpack racism."

One of the catalysts for the letter is an event that actress Christiana Clark said happened to her while walking her dog.

According to her Facebook profile, Clark has taken part in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for three seasons now.

Last month she posted a video to Facebook after what she called ‘a frightening and sickening encounter.”

In the two-minute video, she recounts how a stranger came up to her saying racist remarks while she was in the park with her pet.

“I took out my headphone to hear him say, and I quote, ‘It's still an Oregon law: I could kill a black person and be out of jail in a day and a half. Look it up. The KKK is alive and well here,’” Clark posted.

The artistic and executive directors of the festival addressed that situation, as well as an incident that they called a “death threat,” in their open letter, saying, in part:

Social justice is central to our mission. Doing whatever we can to provide a safe and welcoming environment for our company and our patrons is also a central priority.

We will not tolerate hate speech or other acts of racism and prejudice on our campus, and we will not be silent when such acts are committed beyond our campus.

The organizers added they've been inspired by their company members to address recent events including the Orlando and Dallas shootings, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.

The festival noted it will continue to work with other local and national organizations, like Ashland police, local businesses and tourism partners, and will continue to strive to bring greater diversity to their workforce and their audience.

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