Nataki Garrett, A Prestigious Arts Award Winner With Ties To Oregon


The Doris Duke Artists Awards are the largest national prize given to individual performing artists in theater, dance, and jazz music, and this years recipients include 3 women with strong ties to Oregon, such as Nataki Garrett, the former Executive Artistic Director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Jazz musician Esperanza Spalding, and Acosia Red Elk, a Umatilla Tribe member and 10-time World Champion Jingle Dancer.

2024 Doris Duke Award Winners

Nataki is being honored by the Doris Duke Foundation for her stellar and innovative work in theater.

“The beautiful thing about being in this space of all the different performing artists who are sort of geniuses in their field…all of us have had the opportunity to continue evolving in our work.  The Doris Duke Foundation doesn’t want you to take your resource and use it toward producing work…they want you to take your resource and use it towards sustaining your own life…and if you can sustain the life of an artist, you can sustain a practice.”

Nataki made history as Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s first Black female Executive Artistic Director in 2019, right before the pandemic changed the way audiences attended theater. After serving in the position until resigning in 2023 she said  “At the time, at least on paper, OSF was A $44 million institution. I’m the first woman to run an institution from the artistic directing perspective of that size, and that resource is not just about the money, it’s about the platform. What that platform provides is an opportunity to amplify and exemplify all the ways in which the world is evolving, so I was really honored to be the artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival…I live in a continuum as a Black woman, everything I do affects the Black women who came before me, and it ripples back to generations of Black women who are coming behind me. So, you take a job like that, because you have a need to make sure that you’re clearing the path for people who are coming behind you, and you’re honoring the work that people did in order to make sure you could get there.”

Nataki’s latest work can be seen in Arts For Everybody, an Arts and Health Initiative, where 18 cities across the country, including Seattle, will engage in arts projects highlighting an alliance between arts and health on July 27th.