This Aug. 10, 2018 photo provided by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival shows the outdoor theatre with wildfire smoke on the horizon in Ashland, Ore. The famed Shakespeare festival, that attracts tourists from around the world, says it lost $2 million this summer because smoke from wildfires forced it to cancel more than two dozen outdoor performances. (Kim Budd/Oregon Shakespeare Festival via AP)
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By GILLIAN FLACCUS PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The famed Oregon Shakespeare Festival that attracts tourists from around the world said Tuesday that it lost $2 million this summer because wildfire smoke forced it to cancel more than two dozen outdoor performances.
The organization will have an indoor venue next season for smoky days as an alternate to its award-winning outdoor theater and will shift its outdoor season back a week to avoid the worst of the wildfire season, said Julie Cortez, the festival's spokeswoman.
"The event in Ashland, Oregon, had to cancel 26 outdoor performances starting in July and running through earlier this month, she said. That's more canceled shows than in all five previous seasons combined", Cortez said.
"It's impacting everyone in our region. Pretty much every business or organization in this area has sagged a bit this summer," she said.
It comes as climate change extends the wildfire season and makes blazes bigger and more destructive, threatening to make air quality worse in urban areas.
The festival has always had to contend with wildfires, but this season was "above and beyond" any other, Cortez said, with smoke coming in from massive fires in Northern California, southern Oregon and sometimes even Washington state. Ashland is just across the state line from California