Paul Nicholson is executive director emeritus of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, having held the position of executive director from November 1995 until his retirement in December 2012. As OSF’s executive director he was responsible for all management aspects of one of the largest and most complex professional theatres in the United States, including strategic planning, budgeting, fundraising, public relations, marketing, education programs, human resources, and board relations. From 1980 until 1995 Mr. Nicholson was General Manager of the Festival.
A New Zealander, Mr. Nicholson was for six years the Administrative Director of Downstage Theatre, New Zealand’s largest and longest-established professional theatre. Prior to becoming involved in professional Theatre, Mr. Nicholson worked for ten years in the corporate world as a planning manager, management accountant and systems analyst.
Mr. Nicholson has a B.C.A Honors (the New Zealand equivalent of an MBA) from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. He was the recipient of a New Zealand Arts Council grant to review theatre administration in Australia (1979) and has been a guest lecturer at Stanford University, University of Oregon, Mary Baldwin College (Staunton VA), Southern Oregon university, Victoria University of Wellington, the New Zealand Insurance Institute, the New Zealand Department of Trade and Industry, the Oregon Educational Media Association, and the BC Touring Council for the Performing Arts. In the United States he has acted as a management consultant for many non-profit organizations, including the Oregon Ballet Theatre, the William Inge Festival, Roanoke Island (Lost Colony) Historical Association, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the Tudor Guild, the Southern Oregon Historical Society, Britt Festivals and Rogue Opera. He continues to consult with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and is actively involved in arts advocacy efforts for the state of Oregon, currently serving as president of the Oregon Cultural Advocacy Coalition.
He was a founding faculty member of the Western Arts Management Institute and since 1984 has been an Adjunct Professor at Southern Oregon University. In 1991 he was featured in the PBS series on management, “Nothing Ventured”. He has also served on a number of panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Theatre Communications Group (TCG). He is a recipient of Concordia University’s Vero Nihil Verius Award for Distinguished Achievements in the Arts and the Southern Oregon University’s President’s Medal and was recognized as one of Oregon’s 50 Great Leaders by Oregon Business Magazine. Recently he received the Burbage Award from the American Shakespeare Center and the Mark R. Sumner Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Outdoor Drama.
Active in community affairs, Mr. Nicholson is a past Chair of the Ashland Community Hospital Board of Directors, is a member and prior director of Rotary, has served on the board of the Theatre Communications Group and the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, and has participated in many local committees and boards. He currently serves on the boards of La Clinica Health Center, the Oregon Cultural Advocacy Coalition and the Southern Oregon University Advisory Council.