Bowmer Theatre tragedy has happy ending

Oregon Shakespeare Festival is turning the final page of its tragedy-to-triumph story involving the crippling and temporary closure of its largest theater during the peak of last year's tourist season.

The festival last week received a large chunk of $917,000 withheld since March by an insurance company, said OSF Executive Director Paul Nicholson, who hopes to finalize negotiations surrounding the festival's $3.58 million claim in the next 10 days. The festival received about $2.67 million of the claim earlier this year.

"It feels good," said Nicholson, who was forced to close the Angus Bowmer Theatre on June 18, 2011, after an inspection revealed a severe crack in its main support beam that threatened to collapse the building.

Nicholson successfully negotiated $677,000 of the balance and said it's possible OSF could receive some or all of the $240,000 remaining in the claim with Great American Insurance Co.

"We have finalized negotiations with the insurance company and are very pleased with how they have responded to both our initial and supplementary claims," Nicholson said in an email sent to the company Monday. "We're still waiting for the final check, but are able to let you know that the claim has been settled to our satisfaction."

The festival received a $328,295 check in March for the cost of mending the Bowmer's main beam that was heard cracking during a performance of "Measure for Measure" on June 17, Nicholson said. Another check for $2.34 million was given to the company to cover lost revenue associated with the six-week (duration has been corrected from previous version) Bowmer closure, he said.

The closure of the Bowmer was responsible for more than $2.4 million in lost revenue, $328,000 for repairs made to the 70-foot-beam above the theater's stage, and $867,000 for setting up Bowmer in the Park and hosting performances at alternate venues before that, the festival estimated.

The balance that had been remaining since March was sought mostly to cover the cost of moving 31 originally scheduled Bowmer performances to other venues in Ashland, some of which were free for ticketholders, while the theater was closed from June 18 to Aug. 2, Nicholson said. It also was to cover costs to OSF for erecting Bowmer in the Park, a 600-seat tent the festival installed in Lithia Park to house the Bowmer's displaced performances during the last three weeks of July, he said.

Reach Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email

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