(A 2019 exhibit celebrating the artwork created during the Student Arts Mentoring Project, led by Ashland High Arts Advocates | Photo courtesy of Oregon Arts Commission)
Using the arts as a means to address community need is the focus of 40 projects awarded a total of $180,000 through the Oregon Arts Commission’s FY2021 Arts Build Communities grant program. The Arts Build Communities program targets broad geographic impact and arts access for underserved audiences in Oregon.
Projects funded include Applegate Regional Theatre’s drive-in venue where audiences can enjoy musical concerts and theater performances from the comfort and safety of their cars; Portland Playhouse’s live-streamed performances and trauma-informed talkbacks that break down cultural norms about Black masculinity; and The Next Door’s metal art sculpture project with local youth in The Dalles.
“This program provides financial support to arts and other community-based organizations for projects that address a local community problem, issue or need through an arts-based solution,” said Arts Commission Vice Chair Jenny Green, who led the review panel. “Local citizens employ creative thinking and collective response to identify a local need and provide an arts-based solution.”
The grants also spark and leverage many other investments and resources, serving as a catalyst for greater economic and civic impact, said Green.
In recent years Arts Build Communities projects attracted more than $600,000 in additional investment, much of it representing salaries paid to artists and others as well as products and services purchased in the funded communities.
Arts Build Communities grants are made possible through a funding partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.
The FY2021 recipients are:
Anima Mundi Productions, Phoenix: $3,888
To support the creation, performance and recording of Six Feet Apart: Stories of Resilience and Transformation, a new work of choral music based on Oregonians’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds will engage the Resonance Ensemble, a professional 16-voice choir based in Portland. A streaming video and a document archiving all of the collected stories will be available online free to the public.
Applegate Regional Theatre, Inc., Veneta: $5,311
To support Drive-in Music and Theater on the Fields, which includes a drive-in venue for audiences to enjoy musical concerts and theater performances from the comfort and safety of their cars. Funds will be used to purchase a flatbed trailer to use as a stage, a stage cover, stage and audience lighting, parking signage and other event services.
Ashland High Arts Advocates, Ashland: $3,551
To support the Student Arts Mentoring Project, providing individual and small group arts mentoring to low-income grade 6-12 students in the Ashland area. Funds will be used for artist fees, art supplies and transportation.
Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton: $3,863
To increase Native American cultural representation on campus through art, books, media and programming featuring contemporary Native American artists. Funds will be used to purchase artworks and develop programming that describes the artworks’ significance to foster a more welcoming college environment, with a focus on art as a means of cultural awareness and representation.
Cascade School of Music, Bend: $3,000
To support the Musical Explorers Outreach Program, which offers off-site classes and performances for the community with a focus on reaching populations with limited access to live music or music education, including students from the Latino community and seniors in assisted living facilities. Funds will support teacher salaries, instrument rentals for students in need and facility rentals.
Cascadia Chapter of National Association of Composers, Portland: $4,777
To support Fierce, Fabulous and Fully Coiffed, a multidisciplinary drag extravaganza to take place in fall 2021 at the Clinton St. Theater. This over-the-top theatrical show combines the sassy, tragicomic magnificence of top-caliber drag art with new music centering on a range of LGBTQ+ lived experiences, challenges, perspectives, art forms and attitudes. Funds will be used for artist fees, venue rental, tech, admin, publicity fees, sets and costumes.
CoHo Productions, Ltd, Portland: $4,856
To support the Virtually Connected initiative, outfitting the CoHo theatre to live-stream and broadcast productions to keep artists employed and audiences connected in these trying times. Communities will have the ability to access the vitally supportive and community-building power of local and live art, building bridges across a socially distanced world to increase empathy and counteract isolation. Funds will be used for necessary equipment and employee costs associated with live-streaming theatrical productions.
Color Outside the Lines, Portland: $5,776
To support the Covid19 — Art Heals Project, which revolves around three primary initiatives: distributing art supply kits to youth in need; offering online streaming art classes to underserved youth; and a seven piece outside mural series with local Portland BIPOC artists in collaboration with at-risk youth. Funds will be used for art supplies, artist costs and production of the community services.
Community Alliance of Lane County, Eugene: $3,000
To install a Latin-themed mural in downtown Springfield and hold associated activities to promote it. Members of Citywide and Escudo Latino (Latinx community group), Latinx business owners and Latinx individuals will participate in online design sessions with the muralist and Citywide youth will participate in the mural painting. Funds will be used for painting and promotion.
Community Vision, Portland: $3,297
To support Connecting Communities, Fostering a Collective Voice to connect people with disabilities with culturally specific groups to create art that will be displayed in their gallery and community. Funds will be used for staff time to coordinate the project, materials for the participants and display costs for the exhibitions.
Ditch Projects, Springfield $5,581
To support Ghost Rider: Performing Fugitive Indigeneity, a multi-part exhibition and publication project, , featuring paintings and writing by Klamath Modoc artist Ka’ila Farrell-Smith and a series of prints and video screenings from her collaborations with Ascend Indigenous Womxn Fine Art Collective, the Tiny House Warriors and Signal Fire Indigenous Artist Retreat. Funds will be used for artist fees, exhibition materials, a publication and project oversight.
Drexel H. Foundation, Vale: $4,313
To support Reunite for Vale’s Public Art to enrich the city streetscape with public art created by all sectors of the community. COVID has isolated community members and the creation of a joint project will reconnect them. The 2021 project resulted from planning by high school youth, artists, community leaders, the Drexel Foundation and Vale’s City Mayor. Funds will pay for artists’ fees, marketing and art supplies.
Elkton Community Education Center, Elkton: $3,000
To support Trash to Treasure, a grassroots art and economic development initiative to create a recycling infrastructure in a rural community that has lost public services. The project will offer multi-generational workshops on creating art from recycled materials and culminate in an 8 by 8 public art installation, using tile from locally recycled plastic. Funds will be used for instructors, fees, framing materials, hanging hardware and tile production.
Emerald Empire Art Association/Emerald Art Center, Springfield: $3,000
To partner with Springfield Public Schools to offer after-school art workshops for 80 4th and 5th grade students. Four workshops, offered at the Emerald Art Center and online, are designed to ignite curiosity and encourage self-expression, culminating in a special exhibit in EAC’s gallery. Topics proposed offer both timely themes of culture and place as well as mediums attractive to children. Funds will be used to provide scholarships for up to 24 children qualifying for free or reduced lunch.
Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestras, Eugene: $5,874
To support the Online String Academies, which will provide free or very low cost online beginning strings instruction to up to 150 third, fourth and fifth graders in the Eugene 4J School District. Funds will be used to support artistic staff fees, instrument purchases, administrative staff fees and online platform membership fees.
Fishtrap Inc, Enterprise: $5,270
To support The Big Read, a community-wide shared reading experience. The 2021 selection is In the Heart of the Sea by Nathan Philbrick. Funds will be used for promotional costs, screening fees, speaker honoraria, supplies and to purchase books to be made available free to community organizations.
Friendly House, Portland: $3,000
To support Friendly House Virtual Community Nights, engaging community members in virtual arts-based activities to reduce social isolation, encourage creativity, support local artists and build a stronger community. Funds will be used for arts and craft supplies, instructor fees and tablets with data plans to be distributed to qualifying low-income participants without access to the required technology.
Future Prairie, Portland: $5,749
To support Future Prairie Radio, a weekly podcast that examines the future of art, design and culture through the eyes of marginalized artists. Funds will be used to compensate hosts, guests and the production team, as well as to procure music and music rights, local and digital advertising, transcription services and technology.
Grande Ronde Symphony Association, La Grande: $3,834
To support SOAR- String and Orchestral Arts Revitalization, an after school string instruction program with the La Grande School District. Funds will be used to assist in supplementing four instructor consultants serving more than 60 students in 3rd through 8th grades.
Hollywood Senior Center, Portland: $3,168
To support online Poetry Power sessions, a therapeutic poetry writing program for older adult survivors of elder abuse. Poetry Power supports healing and growth through compassionate listening and facilitating creative expression in a safe and supportive environment. Funds will be used for key personnel, administration, recruiting and training volunteer writing mentors, outreach to participants and materials for Poetry Power sessions.
Lane Arts Council, Eugene: $5,776
To support Celebrating and Connecting Latinx Artists throughout Lane County. Funds will be allocated to artist fees for community cultural events, a stipend for an Arte LatiNext coordinator, artist professional development trainings and expanded Fiesta Cultural marketing outside of Eugene.
Literary Arts Inc, Portland: $3,000
To support participation from two Woodburn high schools in Literary Arts’ Youth Program activities. Funds will be used to cover ticket and book costs for students to attend Portland Arts & Lectures author talks and fees surrounding the College Essay Mentoring Project.
Media-Rites, Portland: $4,095
To produce an enhanced staged reading with movement of iHula by Ryan Okinaka, followed by community discussion and an art fair at IRCO’s Asian Family Center. Funds will be used to compensate artists, directors, choreographers, community panelists, transportation and lodging for the playwright, venue rental and administrative fees for organizers.
Miracle Theatre Group, Portland: $5,610
To support a Teatro Milagro UNIDAD Social Justice Theatre Residency in Baker City. Funds will be used for teaching artists curriculum development, coordination with community partners, video production of workshop materials and other related program expenses.
Morpheus Youth Project, Portland: $6,977
To support creative workshops for youth at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility in Woodburn, serving more than 100 young men with limited access to creative outlets. Workshop topics include visual art, music, audio production and podcasting. Funds will be used to purchase art supplies and audiovisual equipment and to provide stipends to guest artists.
My Voice Music, Portland: $4,915
To support Let’s Write a Song Together, a program serving 100 youth in residential and outpatient programs in Portland and Woodburn. Youth will write and record a song that will culminate in the release of a song compilation and online release party. Funds will be used to pay teaching artists, sound engineers, recording equipment, printing/ design and other costs associated with the compilation release.
Northwest Classical Theatre Collaborative, Inc., Portland: $5,119
To support a tour of the west coast premiere of Tony and Olivier winner Richard Eyre’s vibrant, modern language, 90-minute translation of Henrik Ibsen’s GHOSTS. The work will be accompanied by live music for culturally underserved populations in Multnomah, Clackamas, Umatilla, Marion, Coos, Washington, Wallowa, Yamhill and Lake Counties. Funds will be used for artist fees, transportation and hotel costs.
Open Hearts Open Minds, Portland: $4,370
To support Theatre @ Coffee Creek, an arts program for inmates of Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville. The women in the program will produce a theatrical piece to perform for invited guests, family, friends and other residents. Funds will be used for facilitator fees, guest artist fees, travel reimbursement, costumes, properties, photography/video production, books and scripts, musical equipment and repair, refreshments and shared administrative costs.
Orchestra Next, Eugene: $3,911
To support the ON Academy which includes classes on digital audio workstation techniques; panel discussions on What it Means to be a Responsible Content Creator in this Virtual World; classes and instruction for individual instrumentalists; and mentorship opportunities for students to record and interact with teachers directly. Funds will be used for artist fees and to purchase technology to provide access to underserved communities.
Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland: $3,000
To support Moves After School, an enrichment arts program with two school partners, Beach Elementary and Faubion Elementary. Funds will be used to support teaching artist fees to design and implement the program in winter and spring 2021 semesters, with digital resources and a return to in-school activities when possible.
Oregon Supported Living Program Arts and Culture Program, Eugene: $5,426
To support the Creative Outreach Program in Lane County. The program will provide art instruction, studio access, one-on-one mentorships and remote creative access to adult artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities experiencing isolation and loss of participatory arts programming due to COVID-19. Funds will be used for program re-development, outreach, instructor salaries and art supplies.
Outside the Frame, Portland: $6,171
To support Go Forth and Film, through which unhoused youth can create short films, train on advanced film equipment and gain professional skills. Funds will be used to support the equipment manager, guest film instructor fees, peer mentor stipends and workshop materials.
Portland Playhouse, Portland: $5,352
To support the Triggered Life Residency, three weeks of live-streamed performances and trauma-informed talkbacks that break down cultural norms about Black masculinity for the general public, local schools and therapeutic facilities. Funds will be used for production and streaming costs, artist fees, project management and evaluation.
Portland Street Art Alliance, Portland: $5,392
To support the new Mural District initiative in the Central Eastside Industrial District. Specifically these funds will facilitate more inclusive community involvement in the process of mural making. Funds will be used to hire mural assistants from Ground Score and Voz Worker Center to provide un-housed and day laborers with professional training opportunities in mural painting activities.
Rainmaker Craft Initiative, Portland: $4,491
To support the Diversity in Craft Initiative, focused on creating a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and accountable craft community. Funds will be used to support programming designed by Joe Robinson, owner of East Creek, implemented at his ceramic facilities in Willamina. Funds will pay stipends to three artists to engage the leadership program, materials and fuel for three wood firings and administrative costs.
Rural Klamath Connects, Malin: $3,517
To support Placemaking and the Art of Story Catching, storytelling and oral history training for youth and community members including high-level technical documentation and an interactive audio tour for residents and visitors. Funds will be used for artist’s fees, artistic services, arts instruction and supplies.
Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Otis: $4,575
To support the Community Arts Project, which provides in-school monthly arts literacy programming to approximately 500 students in Tillamook County through Nestucca Valley and Girabaldi schools. Funds will be used to support art literacy instructors, a program coordinator and art supplies for students.
The Artback, Eagle Creek: $4,432
To support the A Camino Largo, Paso Corto Mural. The mural will be painted on the north wall of Dollar General in downtown Estacada and reflect the lives and cultures of the Latinx population and persons of color in the community. Funds will be used for NovaColor paint and supplies, scaffold rental, community meetings and workshop and artists’ fees.
The Next Door, Inc., Hood River: $3,888
To support The Dalles Art Project Open Door, a metal art sculpture project located outdoors in The Dalles, led by Gorge-based metalwork and sculpture artist MacRae Wylde. Young people will participate in workshops facilitated by Wylde to create their own drawing depicting the theme “hope.” Wylde will take the youth’s drawings, arrange them in a collage and create a metal freeze cut-out that will surround the base of the sculpture. Funds will be used for artist fees, materials and installation.
Third Angle New Music Ensemble, Portland: $5,877
To support Third Angle’s Soundwalk Series, six soundwalks by six artists, presented with Portland Parks & Recreation between January and June 2021. The soundwalks will be free and introduce audiences of all ages to new modes of listening to the world around them. Funds will be used for artist fees, materials, technical support, marketing and project management.
The Oregon Arts Commission provides leadership, funding and arts programs through its grants, special initiatives and services. Nine commissioners, appointed by the Governor, determine arts needs and establish policies for public support of the arts. The Arts Commission became part of Business Oregon (formerly Oregon Economic and Community Development Department) in 1993, in recognition of the expanding role the arts play in the broader social, economic and educational arenas of Oregon communities. In 2003, the Oregon legislature moved the operations of the Oregon Cultural Trust to the Arts Commission, streamlining operations and making use of the Commission’s expertise in grantmaking, arts and cultural information and community cultural development.
The Arts Commission is supported with general funds appropriated by the Oregon legislature and with federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust.