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Scaling the Wall 

Local arts organization receives Oregon Community Foundation grant

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Liz Rink

You may have heard the name in passing, ScaleHouse, a local arts organization that hosts occasional "sessions," lectures, discussions, film screenings and the like around town and that, until recently, had a fairly innocuous presence in Bend. But don't expect them to remain torpid in 2015. Headed by community and inspiration powerhouses Rene Mitchell (TBD Agency) and Cassondra Schindler (Ignite Bend, TedXBend, MUSE), backed by cultural forces Sandy Anderson, Pat Clark, Cristy Lanfri, and just having received its first chunk of grant-won financial support from the Oregon Community Foundation, ScaleHouse has taken a measured approach to a big year ahead.

"We want to connect with people that are enthusiasts about creative culture—that are makers, that are doers, that are curious," explained Cassondra Schindler.

"The overall goal is a contemporary creative center, a physical space where we could have gatherings, show film screenings, authors could do readings, we could have traveling exhibitions and also room for classes," added Rene Mitchell, the driving force behind ScaleHouse. "But building a home takes resources. Our mission right now is just to inspire creative thinking. We're an arts entity, but we don't want to be pigeonholed into arts. It's about inspiring creative thinking among City Council, the library, business owners, something the whole community and city can be a part of. We so believe in that that we are not going to wait for a space. We're operating as a center without four walls."

Schindler compared the ultimate goal for ScaleHouse to The Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, which holds participatory events, exhibits, films, performances and more. ScaleHouse is looking to have the same type of cultural footprint in Central Oregon, and with its first successful granting cycle, it is one step closer to that goal.

The $1,000-$5,000 grants from the Oregon Community Foundations were specifically available to arts organizations with annual operating budgets of $100,000. The $2,000 grant awarded to ScaleHouse will go toward operating costs and development to apply for more grants and eventually to have its own space, said Mitchell.

Other organizations that qualified for grants from OCF this year include Rise Up International, High Desert Chamber Music, Fossil Players, Crook County Parks and Recreation Foundation and Archaeological Society of Central Oregon, in addition to ScaleHouse. OCF's small grant dollars totaled $16,780 in Central Oregon.

Follow ScaleHouse at facebook.com/scalehouse for further updates on the organization's progress and on future sessions.

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