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News Release
53 organizations share $265,000 in Arts Build Communities awards to address community need through the arts (Photo) - 03/24/23

Salem, Ore. – Fifty-three organizations addressing a community issue or need through the arts have been awarded $5,000 FY2023 Arts Build Communities grants totaling $265,000 from the Oregon Arts Commission. The Arts Build Community program is committed to promoting arts access for underserved audiences and targets broad geographic impact throughout Oregon. 

The grant-funded projects include the “Pony Xpress Journal" – a digital publication for writers who are incarcerated – by Bridgeworks Oregon; “A Reflection of Life,” a full-length documentary film by World Muse that explores water issues and features Indigenous voices from five Northwest tribes  as well as public policy makers and scientists; and BODY/LANGUAGE, a free, full-day festival by Cascadia Composers that explores how music and movement provide cultural understanding, identity, unity and healing. 

“These grants help arts and other community-based organizations address a local community problem, issue or need through the arts," said Arts Commission Vice Chair Harlen Springer, who led one of three review panels. “It enables local citizens to employ creative thinking and a collective response to strengthen and enrich their community.”

The grants also spark and leverage many other investments and resources, serving as a catalyst for greater economic and civic impact, said Springer. 

In recent years the Arts Build Communities program has generated more than $600,000 in additional community investment, much of it representing salaries paid as well as products and services purchased in the funded communities. These grants are made possible through a funding partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

The FY2023 recipients are:

Anima Mundi Productions, Phoenix

To support "Among Sisters," a music project comprising two concerts of professional women musicians performing works by women composers, two new world premiere commissions, and a 10-day residency for the Uptown String Quartet, a legendary all-female, all-Black ensemble. This residency will offer free community events in Southern Oregon. Funds will cover the costs of this residency, which include artist fees and travel expenses.

Art in Oregon, Oregon City           

To support Arts in Oregon’s work with Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts to curate an exhibition of Oregon-based indigenous artists at the Chehalem Cultural Center, Parrish Gallery. The exhibit includes eight artists from the Crow’s Shadow permanent collection. The artists will have the opportunity to contribute additional artwork and be compensated with a stipend of at least $500. The goal is to further their artistic practice by sharing recent work and supporting the creation of new work.

Artist Mentorship Program, Portland    

To support the Artist Mentorship Program’s drop-in space for youth ages 15-25 in the Portland metro area to help them navigate the trauma of homelessness by building healthy, relationship-centered communities through music and art. Funds will be used for music equipment, art supplies and staffing. AMP believes that youth experiencing homelessness are resilient, creative and deserving of a dynamic support system and nurturing environment where they can heal from trauma.

BEAT Children’s Theater, Bend

To support BEAT’s Community Outreach Educational Program. Funds will be used for artist fees, supplies (costumes, makeup, music, set pieces, etc.), royalties, printing and transportation.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Lane County, Florence

To support the Unlock Future Success with Art Education initiative to foster creative self-expression bolstered by art education so that by Dec. 31, 2023, 50 low-income, rural Florence youth will have experienced 12 months of innovative, high-yield arts education experiences. The initiative is designed to stimulate learning, inspire creativity and encourage self-expression. Funds will be used for art education fees and art supplies.

Bridgeworks Oregon, Portland

To support the “Pony Xpress Journal," an annual digital publication for Oregon writers who are incarcerated. Funds will be used to run 14 writing workshops, including travel costs to Oregon prisons.

Caldera, Portland

To support a Youth Arts Mentoring Program that provides ~250 youth/year in Portland and Central Oregon with year-round arts-based mentoring that integrates nature and is grounded in positive youth development; and to support Artist in Residency Programs that provide ~25 artists/year with opportunities to build skills, relationships and creative projects at Caldera’s Arts Center in Central Oregon. Funds will support artist fees and program supplies and materials.

Cascadia Composers, Portland

To support BODY/LANGUAGE, a free, full-day summer festival of concerts and workshops combining new art music with multicultural dance at Toast Studios. This interactive event unites several artistic/cultural forces active in Portland’s Cully neighborhood and beyond with local composers to explore how music and movement provide cultural understanding, identity, unity and healing. Funds will be used for artist fees, tech, venue, production and admin costs, and publicity.

Centro Cultural del Condado de Washington, Cornelius

To enrich three major cultural celebrations and traditions: Dia del Nino in April, El Grito in September, and Dia de los Muertos in November with diverse and engaging arts-based programming and activities aimed at furthering accessible arts in Washington County. Funds will be used for artist fees and to purchase arts supplies and materials.

City of Toledo, Toledo

To support the ART Toledo Youth Initiative, which engages youth in public art activities in rural Toledo, providing opportunities for emerging artists and exposing youth and young adults to different art medians. Funds will be used for purchasing art supplies and targeted outreach materials for youth.

Clackamas County Arts Alliance, Oregon City

To support Youth Arts for Change, which provides vulnerable and underserved youth with unique opportunities for personal exploration and creative expression. Funds will be used to compensate teaching artists and provide youth with supplies for hands-on projects, as well as take-home art supply bags to further develop their voice through the arts.

Corvallis Multicultural Literacy Center, Corvallis

To support Mundus Imaginalis, a community-based collective muralism project, led by immigrant and English-learner youth. The project will uplift collective and individual voices, stories of heritage and current multiculturalism while promoting self-expression, confidence and cooperation. Funds will be used for supplies, advertising, facilitator stipend, staff time, an unveiling ceremony and community engagement.

Dallas Arts Association, Dallas

To support Dallas On Stage – Live Community Theater. Funds will be used to purchase microphones, lighting and stage equipment for the new theater group. 

Deschutes Public Library Foundation, Bend

To support the community read program, “A Novel Idea,” where residents are encouraged to read, discuss, create and explore the selected books together. The Library Foundation is seeking to bridge the socio-economic and cultural differences and foster a sense of community. Funds will be used to pay for bilingual author María Amparo Escandón’s honorarium, Spanish-speaking cultural experts and books in Spanish.

Drexel H. Foundation, Vale

To support Public Art Enhances Malheur Co. to fill a community need to enrich our county with public art created by all sectors of the community and locating it throughout the county visible from the roadways. Funds will be used to pay for artists fees, marketing, and purchase supplies.

Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestras, Eugene

To support the ESYO String Academies, which provide beginning strings instruction to 3rd-5th graders for free or at very low-cost at several Eugene 4J Public Elementary Schools. Funds will be used to support bringing these classes back into school buildings after two seasons of online programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fishtrap Inc, Enterprise

To support the winter program “Fishtrap Reads,” where community members read a shared book and engage in free programming to explore the selected book. Events include a kick-off, book discussions, lectures, celebrations and film screenings. Hundreds of free books will be distributed to local schools and libraries. Funds will be used to purchase 400 copies of this year’s selected book, cover a keynote presenter honorarium and purchase related support materials.

Friendly House, Portland

To support a new project: Art Therapy Group at Friendly House. Funds will be used for instructor/therapist fees, art supplies, food and refreshments for participants during this 4 to 6 session series planned for 2023, aimed at reducing isolation and providing therapeutic workshops with a trained art therapy counselor to address impacts of trauma, abuse, violence and mental illness through art and community.

Friends of The Historic Union Community Hall, Union

To support the Music Education: Catherine Creek Community Center Program. Funds will be used to initiate an all-age music program in Union Oregon. The program will invite interest in Old Time Fiddle music, bridge a gap between generations of performers and support local culture via music education.

Global Works Community Fund, Portland

To support the Unity Through Arts Program, which engages 15 BIPOC and low-income youth annually through 36 weeks of programming for ~140 hours of engagement. The civic engagement project focuses on creating impact in essential change-making spaces, and art is a way of expressing the times, needs of the community, and the voices of individuals. Funds will support the mural creation aspect programming, including artist fees, supplies and materials.

Grande Ronde Symphony Association, La Grande

To support the Chamber and Small Ensemble Series. The requested funds will be used to provide concerts in creative, historic venues and employ regional performers to engage a diverse audience in northeastern Oregon. Funds will be used to provide honorarium for performers, marketing and venue facility fees.

Heart of Cartm, Manzanita

To support the Transforming Marine Debris Creative Retreat in January and November of 2023. Each event will include three days of art, creative writing and a shoreline survey and collection. Funds will pay for skilled artist instructors and accommodations for participants to engage in reflection together. 

Japanese American Museum of Oregon, Portland

To support Behind These Bars, a project to raise awareness of the contributions of civil rights activist Minoru Yasui and to celebrate the State of Oregon’s Minoru Yasui Day. Funds will produce a staged reading of Yasui’s writings by a racially diverse cast, a dedication of his jail cell at JAMO and a community performance at the Soul Restoration Center to deepen relationships between communities of color and focused outreach to youth.

Josephy Center for Arts and Culture, Joseph

To support "Chronicles of Change," a community-based exploration through art, science and storytelling, of how local communities and landscapes are transforming due to climate change and consequent cultural shifts. JCAC will host the exhibits in collaboration with five other community nonprofits that will present coordinated talks, field trips and activities germane to their foci.

La Grande Arts Commission, La Grande

To support the installation of a multi-panel concrete image sculpture display on the bulkhead in front of the 4th street entrance of the Cook Memorial Library in downtown La Grande. The sculpture will be free-standing but bolted to the platform and have four murals that can be viewed from different perspectives with the theme "Honoring the Past; Celebrating the Present; Embracing the Future." Funds will be used to pay the artist.

Lane Arts Council, Eugene

To expand cultural programming by partnering with Black/African American artists to develop and produce content for the July and August First Friday ArtWalks 2023. Funds will support production and artist fees, equipment rental, supplies and materials, permits and staff time for project management and administration.

Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland

To support Dress Han: A Celebration & Re-Imagining of Hanfu. Dress Han is a two-month celebration showcasing original hanfu fashion and hanfu-inspired music by local Asian American artists, plus a master workshop series, original cultural programming, a talk series focused on hanfu as a cultural product, and multi-disciplinary activities led by AANHPI cultural groups. Funds will be used for engagement activities, marketing, outreach and staffing.

Literary Arts Inc, Portland

To support Woodburn High School’s participation in Literary Arts’ Youth Program activities. Funds will be used to cover ticket costs for students to attend Portland Arts & Lectures author talks, fees surrounding Writers in the Schools residencies and other Youth Programs activities.

MetroEast Community Media, Gresham

To support “Food Foray,” a community-focused television program highlighting the role of ethnic groceries in addressing food security in East Multnomah County. Funds will be used for video production and editing, translation services, community engagement, food and supplies.

Miracle Theatre Group, Portland

To support Teatro Milagro, the educational outreach program of Milagro. Funds will be used for teaching artists fees, supplies and transportation.

My Voice Music, Portland

To support two new satellite programs in Harmony Academy, for youth recovering from substance abuse disorders, and Pioneer School, for students with significant behavioral and/or emotional needs. Funds will be used to pay teaching artist fees and transportation costs.

Northwest Museum of Cartoon Arts, Portland

To support “Improved literacy with comics study and creation,” which will educate youth who are below grade level in reading about comics creation and reading. Each student will meet with comics authors and artists, create their own comic with drawing tablets, and be presented with a set of graphic novels upon completion of the class. Funds will be used for a classroom teacher, expert guest teachers and a paraeducator.

Oregon ArtsWatch, Portland

To support a series of stories published on orartswatch.org that will profile essential cultural hubs, especially in rural areas, and how they uniquely serve and reflect their communities. These stories will reach 25,000 people, giving the hubs greater visibility, building audiences and generating economic revenue. As traditional media continue to decline dramatically, creating news deserts, cultural communities have a difficult time spreading the word about their work.

Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland

To support the OBT After School program during the 2023 school year. Funds will be used to support salaries and teaching artist wages as OBT partners with four low-income Title 1 schools to offer weekly extra-curricular ballet and creative movement classes throughout the school year.

Oregon Children's Theatre Company, Portland

To support OCT’s fifth annual Intergenerational Queer Theater Project, a devised theater production featuring stories, reflections, poems and songs from 18 members of the regional queer community, ranging in ages from 14 to 80. The cross-generational dialogue among artists seeks to explore the diversity of queer experience, history, outlook across generations and aspirations for the future. Funds will be used for development and production costs.

Oregon Coast Youth Symphony Festival Association, Newport

To support the Festival’s activities, revitalize high school orchestra programs and expand the size of the Festival’s statewide music community. Funds will be used to pay expenses (food, housing, etc.) for the students and their teachers. The high school orchestras only pay for bus transportation to and from Newport.

Out Central Oregon, Bend

To support the inaugural Winter Pride LGTBQ Film Festival in partnership with The Tower Theatre Foundation. Funds will be used for artist fees and staffing.

Pelican Bay Arts Association, Brookings

To support the Youth Summer Art Camp. Funds will be used for teacher stipends, background checks, snacks, program coordination, scholarships and indirect costs for three one-week camps at the Manley Art center. Funds will be used to engage 30 children in learning and making art, three work study assistants in learning art and teaching skills, and to provide a stipend to three art teachers.

Portland Playhouse, Portland

To support programming that creates space for Black and Brown Portlanders to reflect on a range of issues in conjunction with the theatrical run of WHAT I LEARNED IN PARIS: Pearl Cleage’s witty play about Black feminism, love and breaking racial barriers in 1970s Atlanta (Feb 8-March 26, 2023). Funds will be used to cover costs of trauma-informed facilitators, speakers, workshop leaders and the two PPH producers at the helm of the project.

Portland Street Art Alliance, Portland

To support ongoing efforts to create a vibrant public art in Portland via the innovative Community Art Program. The goal is to facilitate inclusive community involvement in the process of mural-making and partner with Ground Score and the City of Portland to paint murals with diverse artists on chronically vandalized properties. Funds will be used for mural wall preparation, painting, community outreach and ongoing mural maintenance.

Portland Taiko, Portland

To support PEOPLE OF THE DRUM, a free summer concert at Gateway Discovery Park on Saturday, July 22. The program will showcase percussion-based performances and dances by Hula Halau ‘Ohana Holo’oko’a (Hawaiian), MexicaTiahui (Mexican/Aztec), Alex Addy Drummers (West African), and Portland Taiko (Japanese/Asian American). Each group will perform for approximately 20 minutes. Free drumming and dance workshops will be offered between performances.

Profile theatre Project, Portland

To support In Dialogue, a season-long partnership between Profile Theatre and culturally specific organizations throughout the Portland metro area that engages a wide range of community members with digital and in-person arts programs. Funds will be used for presenter fees, marketing and outreach expenses.

push/FOLD, Portland

To support the fifth annual Union PDX - Festival of Contemporary Dance (Union PDX - Festival:23) at the Hampton Opera Center in November 2023, featuring artist-talks, low-cost masterclasses, free professional development workshops, and public (paid) and student (free) performances from local, national and international artists creating contemporary work in any dance genre. 

Redfish Music Festival, Port Orford

To support the festival’s operating expenses. Funds will be used to cover insurance costs, venue rental, musician fees, musician transportation, advertising, postage and music camp costs (Including student housing and meals, staffing fees and rental car for student transportation during festival).

Roots and All Theatre Ensemble, Portland

To support Ritual Treatment, a surreal, bilingual piece of dance theatre about a queer Latina teen working through trauma from growing up with domestic violence and entering into a series of abusive relationships. It breaks stigmas around mental illness by cultivating empathy and dismantling taboos. It serves as a catalyst for healing for survivors, and a cautionary tale of the ways we trap ourselves in cycles of violence, even where we think we are safe.

Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Otis

To support the Youth Program in providing hands-on, ecology-inspired, in-school and summer art education to over 1,300 Pre-K-8 grade youth through partner school districts in Tillamook and Lincoln Counties. Funds will be used for art supplies, instructor wages, guest arts/ecology instructors and direct administrative expenses to run and grow the program.

Third Angle New Music Ensemble, Portland

To support a workshop series, “Mental Health for Music Educators,” designed to equip music teachers with resources to support students navigating mental health issue. The series is linked to Third Angle’s winter concert, SELF PORTRAIT, which will create a public platform for addressing the mental health challenges that many musicians face. Funds will be used for workshop fees and outreach to partner organizations that represent music educators.

Umpqua Valley Arts Association, Roseburg

To support PAINT Umpqua Valley, a collaborative art installation project combining youth art education, public transportation and local history. UVA’s Youth Digital Art Residency Program provides an after-school graphic design mentorship for teens. Students prepare designs to submit for an art installation at local bus shelters to celebrate Roseburg’s 150th birthday. Funds will be used to buy a large-format vinyl printer and supplies to support this project and future art installations.

Unlock the Arts, Portland

To support the Expressive Writing Program, which centers on the healing and therapeutic platform of expressive writing for participants aged 14-24 who are currently incarcerated at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility within the Oregon Youth Authority. Funds will be used for artist fees, booklet publication, transportation, purchase of notebooks, pens and folders, stipends for guest speaker(s) and refreshments for open mic sessions.

Western Oregon University Development Foundation, Monmouth

To support El Bardo en el Valle: Milagro Theatre at Western Oregon University, Valley Shakespeare’s collaboration with Milagro Theatre to perform a Spanish Translation of The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged). Funds will be used to hire professional Latinx/Spanish-speaking artists. A half-day symposium with local arts leaders to address the subject of how to increase accessibility to underserved communities will be featured.

Willamette Jazz Society, Eugene

To support The Jazz Station Educational Programs Grant for clinician and venue jam staff fees for two community music programs: In-School Jazz Station House Band Clinics (four musicians) and Jammin with the Pros, a bi-weekly in-venue jam (three rhythm section musicians and two part-time staff positions).

World Muse, Bend

To support the production of "A Reflection of Life," a full-length documentary film focusing on water issues and featuring Indigenous experiences and voices from five Northwest tribes as well as public policy makers and scientists. Funds will be used for artist fees.

Write Around Portland, Portland

To support the production of a 60th anthology and book launch in spring 2023. Funds will be used for printing expenses, book design costs, event rental and supply costs, postage for mailing free copies to participants, and related personnel and infrastructure expenses.

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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. More information about the Oregon Arts Commission is available online at:  www.oregonartscommission.org.


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