Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Wednesday, February 05, 2003


February 5, 2003 -12:00 p.m.
Council Chambers, 1175 East Main Street

Council Chair John Morrison called the meeting to order at 12:00 p.m.

Councilor Amarotico, Hartzell, Jackson, Laws and Hearn were present. Mayor DeBoer was absent. Staff: Interim City Administrator Brian Almquist, Marketing Manager Ann Seltzer, and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg.

I. Joint Presentation by Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Chamber of Commerce regarding fiscal review and overview of operations.

Paul Nicholson, Executive Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Sandra Slattery, Executive Director of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce introduced themselves and explained how they would presenting their presentation. He noted that two speakers, Ken Albers and Laurie Gibbs, would talk about the impact of the City's funding on their work and lives in Ashland.

Slattery gave a brief history regarding tourism-related taxes and related industry funding. She noted that the hotel/motel tax for 2001-02 was $1,168,000 and Food & Beverage tax was $1,268,000.

Nicholson presented the 2002 results for Oregon Shakespeare Festival:

  • 11 plays, for a total of 794 performances

  • Largest attendance in OSF history - 399,609 tickets

  • New accounts increased over the previous season by 19.3%

  • Total of 58,096 tickets in 2002 went to visitors new to OSF

He noted that they had printed and distributed 550,000 copies of the full-color 2003 season brochure, and paid for display ads in major newspapers in the Bay Area, Sacramento, Portland and Seattle. With Ashland Chamber, OSF has supported co-op ads in Sunset Magazine. Public radio sponsorship ads will run, and through its website, OSF links to lodgings, restaurants and other Southern Oregon attractions.

OSF represented Ashland at trade shows, hosted the Ashland Greeters, and two brownbag lunches with Artistic Director, Libby Appel.

OSF continues to build relationships with West Coast reviewers and writers, and anticipates welcoming Time magazine, the London Times, the Guardian (London) and Die Welt (Germany). National Public Radio will create a special nationwide program on OSF. OSF will spend over $600,000 in marketing in FY2003.

OSF has one of the most comprehensive electronic press kits in the country and has developed a comprehensive video pitch reel that is delivered to select national, and all west coast, television stations for both spring and summer openings.

The past year saw the continuation of OSF's active participation in our community. He noted the successful third year of the Ashland Schools Project and the number of local residents who actively volunteer.

OSF's key initiative has been creating greater diversity in our staff and audience and has provided diversity training for its staff.

Nicholson presented the economic impact of 2002 indicating the following:

  • % of patrons who are visitors 86%

  • % of visitors who travel specifically to attend plays 88%

  • Average number of plays seen 3.5

  • Average number of days stays 3.2

  • Average daily expenditures for visitors (excluding theatre tickets) $93.75

Total expenditures for visitors - $25,564,000
OSF budgeted expenditures for the year - $19,030,200
Total Direct Impact  - $44,594,200
Oregon Multiplier  - 2.9


Nicholson explained the tourism-related taxes indicating the following:

  • Hotel/Motel tax $1,168,000

  • Food & Beverage tax $1,268,200

  • Total taxes $2,436,000

OSF patron share of hotel/motel tax $817,600
OSF patron share of food & beverage tax 50% $634,000


Nicholson shared budget details:

2002 2003
Actual Budget Variance
Operating Expenses $19,092,872 $20,327,100 6.5%
Earned Income 14,821,465 15,726,900 6.1%
Earnings Gap ($4,271,407) ( $4,600,200) 7.7%
Contributed Income $4,276,329 $4,600,200 7.6%
Addition to Reserves $4,832

Slattery spoke regarding the relationship that the Chamber has with the community and the work that goes into promoting and providing tourism. She gave examples of how the Chamber works and the outside entities involved. The Chamber provides ongoing information and relationships related to tourism. She noted the large number of volunteers involved who work regularly together.

The Chamber provides Business/Education programs, including free workshops for small businesses and a brochure that featuring 288 businesses which is sent throughout the State. She noted that calendars and newsletters are sent out regularly. The Chamber develops out the Living and Doing Business Guide, which incorporates numerous entities and helps to expand our reach. She noted concern for resources and commented on the joint partnership with the City to distribute the Energy Guide. The wise use of resources is a high priority in our community. She noted the support of the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Program. Also, Education is important to the Chamber and she noted their partnership with Southern Oregon University.

Slattery commented on community events sponsored by the Chamber and felt they are important to our community. She noted their involvement with the Traffic Safety Commission and their willingness to encourage alternative modes of transportation.

She stated the need to support the business sector and how tourism-related taxes are vital to these businesses. She noted legislative issues facing our State and concerns related to this. She shared how the increasing competition from other communities affects our community.

Arne Green, Executive Director of Community Works, voiced support for the City's continued partnership with OSF and the Chamber. He recognized the interconnectivity of different sectors in our community and how a change in one or more of these sectors affects all.

Laurie Gibbs, owner of Winchester Inn and Restaurant shared her relationship with the Chamber and the value that has been provided to her business and the community. She noted that the Living and Doing Guide has been an invaluable tool for her business and patrons. As a business owner and citizen, to be able to partake in the forums and continuing education sessions provided by the Chamber have been appreciated. She stressed the importance and meaningfulness of the Chamber and encouraged the Council's support of OSF and the Chamber.

Ken Albers, Actor and Director with the OSF shared his personal view regarding tourism-related taxes and how valuable this is. Funding allows the theatre artist to put down roots and live in the city where he works, allowing these artists to become citizens in their community.

Chuck Butler, member of the OSF Board, and statewide Oregon Cultural Trust, provided information to the Council for possible funding opportunities through the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Jim Watson, Administrator for Ashland Community Hospital voiced his support for OSF and the Chamber and spoke regarding the levels of stress that are experienced by the sectors in our community. He felt that without OSF and the Chamber it would be economically devastating to our community. He shared the difficulties that the hospital experiences and how the Chamber and OSF are key factors in keeping the community vital.

Ty Hisatomi from the Mt Ashland Association spoke in favor of OSF and the Chamber. He explained how supportive these organizations have been and how well they all work together. He stated that all serve the same purpose, which is to support and inspire our community.

Nicholson concluded by speaking to the uncertain times, sagging economy, threats of terrorism, and possible war. He stated that Arts organizations across the country are facing severe shortfalls in attendance and contributions. He explained that twenty years ago, Ashland faced a similar economy, and that the current Council recognized the importance of the Festival and the Chamber. The investment in these two organizations, by creating a strong cultural and economic base, has paid, and will continue to pay, huge dividends for the citizens of Ashland.

He stated that tourism is clearly an economic engine for Ashland, but that we must recognize that the engine needs to be continually fueled. Without ongoing refueling, tourism will decline. He commented that the funding of OSF and the Chamber is not about growth, it's about sustaining what we have. The financial health of OSF and the Chamber are crucial to the continued prosperity of Ashland. Although OSF has considerable financial stability, it is also vulnerable. Without the City's support, the Festival would have experienced deficits in seven of the last ten years.

Nicholson explained that it is important to note that the City's funding is a vital part of the Festival's contributed income strategy and that demonstrating City support is crucial when working on grants.

He requested that the Council retain the existing funding formula to ensure their ability to continue creating economic health for Ashland.

Discussion continued regarding the difficulties surrounding budgeting and the importance of the City's contribution to these organizations. "Theatre in the Round" was briefly explained and discussed. Comments regarding the effect of the realty industry and how it impacts our tourism. Question on how to diversify, in order to not depend on tourism, was raised and discussed. The need to be clear on how this funding is used was noted as very important. It was clarified that the tourism tax being spoken of is the Hotel/Motel tax as they do not directly receive, but benefit from, the Food & Beverage Tax. Land Use issues were raised and the importance of having OSF and the Chamber involved and providing input. Funding for marketing was discussed.

Meeting was adjourned at 2:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Barbara Christensen, City Recorder

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