Oregon State University (OSU) developed the economy of festival clusters in Ashland, Oregon, USA through Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) initiated by Professor Angus Bowmer back in 1935.

By Rahmat Ullah

Entrepreneurial professors of social studies working in the entrepreneurial universities created the economy of billions.

1.     The Initiation

Angus Bowmer joined the arts faculty as drama instructor and developed an idea to celebrate 4th July through some festival in 1935. Bowmer was a truly entrepreneurial scientist of arts subject. He connected faculty, students and local town people to conduct festival based on Shakespeare plays. He was instructor, actor, director and outreaching mobilizer too. They named it Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) and conducted in the college premises for two years. After realizing its potential, Bowmer arranged a group of people from local town to manage OSF regularly. They got it registered as non-profit independent organization to conduct annual events of OSF.

2.     The State Support

Bowmer approached local state authorities and sold his idea of OSF. He secured lot of support along with numerous venues and places for conducting festivals. He made Govt people part of his project and projected how festival will serve development goals of local community. The local authorities played active role and contributed to make OSF a success.

3.     Academic Support

Bowmer convinced president of his college for expended support. OSU provided faculty, students, funding and administration support to manage these annual events. Faculty designed plays and played various roles. The students volunteered, did research and performed management works.

Bowmer later got enrolled with Dr. Bailey of Stanford University for his PhD. He convinced Dr. Bailey for extended support, active participation and mentorship for OSF. President OSU also invited Dr Bailey for teaching and research to strengthen activities of festival plays. The journey now reached from OSU only to OSU-Stanford collaboration to support OSF. The faculty of both institutions contributed actively in planning and execution of theatrical festival based on Shakespeare plays.

4.     The Growth and Impact

OSF grew to large number of interconnected festivals in Ashland running for eight months and attracting 20 million visitors annually. The large numbers of other festivals were started making Ashland a big cluster of festivals. Prof. Bowmer and Dr. Bailey of OSU and Stanford gave birth to civic entrepreneurship in collaboration with state support. The growth of festivals attracted tourism, restaurant industry, hoteling industry, hospitality services and numerous related economic activities.

Professors and students of OSU worked for OSF and other festivals. The practitioners in OSF and other festivals teach as professors of practice, train students and sponsor research of OSU. Government of Ashland provides many incentives and services to attract investment in festival industry.