The economic downturn has forced the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to trim its 2009 budget in the face of a projected $1 million shortfall, officials said.

The economic downturn has forced the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to trim its 2009 budget in the face of a projected $1 million shortfall, officials said.

OSF Executive Director Paul Nicholson said the company is facing one of its greatest financial challenges in its history, OSF officials said in a news release.

Though the company said attendance was strong in 2008, OSF projects a $750,000 deficit as a result of lower investment returns and decreased ticket revenue.

The news does not get any better for 2009.

Donations are down and the falling stock market has decreased the payout from the endowment fund and other investments. These trends could lead to a shortfall of $1 million in 2009.

Nicholson and Artistic Director Bill Rauch agreed to cut the 2009 budget from $26.5 million to $25.5 million. Nicholson said the cuts will include scaling back productions, new play development, administration, reductions in executive management salaries and not filling open vacancies except in critical areas. No layoffs are expected at this time.

This news came nearly two weeks after the Britt Festivals hosted in Jacksonville announced a half a million budget shortfall for 2008.