Art in the High Desert Creates Strong Economic Impact in Central Oregon


The grassy banks of the Deschutes River in the Old Mill District come alive at the end of August every year for one of the premier fine art shows in the country: Art in the High Desert (AHD). Recently ranked among the top 15 shows in the nation, AHD’s vision is simple: to bring truly original fine art and craft to Central Oregon.

Besides bringing over 100 professional artists from around North America to Bend each August and expanding the already burgeoning selection of fine art that collectors can find in the area, Art in the High Desert is one of the local organizations recognized for the cultural tourism impact they have in Central Oregon.

In a recent survey of over 30 art and cultural member organizations in the Art & Culture Alliance of Central Oregon, data shows that more than $16 million are spent annually on the arts in the area.

Central Oregon’s creative economy has an incredible impact on the health of the region; in addition to the jobs and influx of dollars spent in our cities, creative opportunities create livable communities and attract visitors and residents who want a well-rounded lifestyle: recreation and craft beers go hand in hand with live music and outdoor festivals.

Art in the High Desert has been particularly successful at attracting cultural tourists. Of those attendees surveyed at 2013’s show, over a third came from outside Central Oregon (including Florida, New York, Alaska and Hawaii) and 80 percent came specifically for AHD. Over half indicated they would be shopping and dining during their stay, with almost 20 percent including other cultural pursuits, recreation and music in their visit.

And the attendees of the show spend money. Art in the High Desert’s collector’s program recognizes 15 buyers who spend over $750 at the show each of the three days of the show. Many times the collector’s gifts are gone by mid-day, and artists report some of their best sales coming from AHD.

The economic impact of the creative arts in Central Oregon is growing, and Art in the High Desert has an important impact on this. Visit the show August 22-24 in the Old Mill District to find out why this local artist-run organization is a vital member of our artist community.



About Author

Renee is the Art Director for Cascade Publications, and Editor for Cascade A&E Magazine.

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