Open Space Event Studios — A Beacon for Bend’s Creative & Professional Community


(Photo courtesy of Open Space Event Studios)

In the heart of Bend’s Central District, Open Space Event Studios is a testament to the vibrant pulse of the local creative and professional community. The transformation of this space into a collaborative hub now allows artists, entrepreneurs, and community members to gather, exchange ideas, spark creativity, build business networks, and foster a lively social environment.

The journey began in 2017 when Charlie Thiel purchased what was once 2nd Street Theater. Reflecting on the early days, Leah Rutz, director of Open Space Event Studios, mentions, “In 2018, there weren’t many spaces for artists to rent and utilize. So, our goal was to provide a space for experimental projects in the community. We strived to foster the local arts scene, expanding opportunities for performance and public engagement.” Thiel hoped to keep it as a theater space but with a bigger vision to welcome a wider array of groups and community events. So, construction for Open Space Event Studios began in 2019/2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Despite pandemic challenges that delayed its grand opening and required safety measures, Open Space Event Studios has been fully operational since 2022 with the help of a dedicated and dynamic team. As Rutz explains, “Our mission is to be a high-quality production venue for arts, culture, and business. When we first opened, the goal was: can we get a good subsection of each happening? And we really have!”

The studio prioritizes flexibility and versatility, featuring three distinct studios that can adapt to a diverse clientele and a multitude of events — from performance arts, lectures, and social gatherings to business networking. The largest studio can seat up to 120 guests in a theater arrangement, whereas the whole venue can welcome up to 300 people for larger gatherings.

Open Space Event Studios is well-equipped with integrated audiovisual equipment. Alongside screens in each room for linked presentations — ideal for sizable gatherings — the venue features sound equipment, a PA system, a projection system, and even a fully licensed bar that can be discreetly tucked away.

Open Space Event Studios isn’t just about providing space; it’s a catalyst for community engagement and creativity. The space regularly hosts a variety of events. The studio offers a vibrant platform for artistic expression, from performance art showcases and lively lip-sync battles to art exhibitions and artisan/maker markets.

But its role extends beyond the arts; educational lectures, professional conferences, and workshops often fill the weekdays, many tailored for local nonprofits, product demos, and client appreciation events. Rutz emphasizes, “This blend of activities is essential — it injects vitality into both our venture and the wider Bend community.”

Positioned at the heart of Bend’s Central District, the studio contributes to the area’s rejuvenation efforts. By setting affordable rates, Open Space Event Studios becomes a welcoming and accessible space for diverse groups, from budding artists and nonprofits to established organizations, fostering a culture of inclusivity and collaboration. “We are physically at an intersection in the city, so bringing that metaphor to life with the different and diverse communities that come here is our true goal,” reflects Rutz.

Additionally, they’re expanding, incorporating the adjacent former auto garage into its layout. A city grant for infrastructure costs supports this expansion. It aims to address the need for medium-sized venues in Bend, with an emphasis on supporting the emerging photography and film industry, among other uses. The new space will feature a bar and kitchen, catering to a variety of events while maintaining the flexibility that defines Open Space Event Studios.

Looking ahead, Rutz and Thiel are concentrating on elevating Open Space Event Studios’ impact as a central cultural hub. Their vision extends beyond the studio serving merely as a venue; they see it as a breeding ground for partnerships among artists, nonprofits, and the business community. Rutz shares their forward-thinking approach: “Innovation doesn’t happen in isolation; it’s the product of interaction, social connection, and the free exchange of ideas and expressions. Essentially, we aim to transform this space into a cultural hub that propels Bend towards a brighter future.”

With plans to host their own events and facilitate more community-driven projects, they’re poised to redefine how spaces can serve as catalysts for creativity and collaboration in Bend.

While Open Space Event Studios is a sought-after venue due to its popularity, Rutz warmly invites potential clients to get in touch through their website, email, or phone call. She offers a reassuring note: “We generally fill our calendar about three months in advance, yet there is always flexibility, especially for day-time and weekday events,” she suggests.

Open Space Studio is more than just a venue; it’s a vibrant community space that reflects the energy and diversity of Bend itself. Under the guidance of Rutz and Thiel, Open Space Event Studios is set to continue its journey as a beacon of culture and collaboration in Central Oregon. As the region continues to evolve, Open Space Event Studios remains committed to being at the heart of this transformation, providing a platform for expression, innovation, and connection. • 220 NE Lafayette Ave., Bend


About Author

Leave A Reply