With the upcoming granting cycle of Bend's Cultural Tourism Fund scheduled for 2015, it's time Central Oregon hosts a large-scale conversation amongst our arts community. Step one: the first Central Oregon Arts Summit, a duel project between The Arts & Culture Alliance of Central Oregon and the Oregon Arts Commission is scheduled to take place on Oct. 6.
"The fact that OAC chose to partner with ACA to present a regional summit shows that Central Oregon is becoming recognized as an arts and culture destination," said Kevin Barclay, 2014 ACA Board Chairman and Assistant Director for the Deschutes Public Library.
"The Arts and Culture Alliance was formed to support and promote local arts and culture by creating opportunities for collaboration and new partnerships. The upcoming summit is an example of this in action. By co-sponsoring the event with OAC, the ACA continues in its role to help shape the future of cultural tourism and the arts across Central Oregon."
Previous summits hosted by OAC have been held east of the Cascades in Portland, but this will be the first time the conference is held in Central Oregon. The theme "Exploring Connections" will serve as a state of the union on regional arts and include breakout sessions in a variety of categories including art in healthcare, art ecology, creative place marketing, art in business and something Bend will soon be learning a lot about, cultural tourism.
So who will be there? The answer is pretty much everyone. The summit is open to individual artists, arts supporters, arts-related businesses and volunteers, as well as staff and board members of nonprofit organizations. The keynote speaker, Doug Borwick, is the author of the game changing academic guidebook, "Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S." Borwick was the President of the Board of the Association of Arts Administration Educators and for nearly 30 years and was Director of the Arts Management and Not-for-Profit Management Programs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. He touts himself as "over-educated in the arts" with a Ph.D. in composition from the Eastman School of Music. His theories on the state of arts organizations nationally come from his long experience in the field, and assert that arts began as an expression of community, but during a long historical progression the two have grown dynamically apart.
"It's time to bring them back together," said Borwick in an interview with the Source. "My fundamental thesis is that the arts establishment, basically the nonprofit arts industry, has been, for a good deal of time separated from the person the street. It has to do with history, sociology and economic factors. As we look into the 21st Century, the model upon which that industry has been built is not a sustainable one. My role is two-fold. To advocate for closer connections between arts and communities in which they exist and also on the side of the art industry, to provide training and skills in how to do that."
Borwick's melding of so-called high art and human connection and the assertion that there is no art for art sake is an engaging new approach to building successful arts institutions.
"When we are thinking of community, that doesn't mean we're talking about "American Idol" all the time," said Borwick. "It does mean not talking down to people who don't have a background in the arts, and learning about them enough so the things I know and things I have been trained in can be applied in ways that really are meaningful for them. That really is the fundamental premise."
Central Oregon Arts Summit
Monday, October 6
8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Riverhouse Convention Center, 3075 Hwy 97.
$50 (fee includes box lunch).
See the Source's full Q&A with Doug Borwick at bendsource.com