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Plus: Profile Theatre, Beta Collide, Marylhurst finalist, Stumptown's 'Aida'

Jordan VanSise, Marylhurst University United States, 2014 "Self-Portrait"

Jordan VanSise, Marylhurst University United States, 2014 “Self-Portrait”

I find it quite easy, not to mention delightful, to glide through the culture and its highest achievement, the arts, without a thought about the public support that helps so much of that achievement possible. (Yes, per the great John Dewey, the arts are the greatest human achievement, so eliminating them from schools is SUCH a good idea, right? I digress!) Support for the arts in Oregon has been low historically, though in recent years we’ve started to realize that ranking 50th or 47th in public funding for the arts isn’t such a good idea, and money dedicated to the care and nourishment of the arts has started to rise.

But this is a democracy, and we should keep an eye on the use of that public money. Yes, it’s appropriate that we spend money on the arts, and yes, it’s important that we figure out what the best use of that money is.

All of that is simply a prelude to our first couple of News & Notes items!

The Regional Arts & Culture Council has issued its 2013 annual report, and it’s well worth a look, if you are interested in how public money is supporting the arts. The raw revenue number itself is interesting: $7,473,927. And that doesn’t include any arts tax money, which will be coming online this fiscal year and next.

The Oregon Cultural Trust has reported that taxpayers donated 4.3%  more money to the trust in 2013 than in 2012, going from $3,960,094 in 2012 to  $4,131,520 in 2013. In the  the 2013-14 grant cycle, the trust awarded $1.6 million in grants, so that could go up a bit next year. By statute the Cultural Trust saves $.58 of each donor dollar in a permanent fund, which has reached $20 million.

And now some news from some arts organizations WE support (one way or another)…

Profile Theatre will substitute a production of True West for the previously scheduled Kicking a Dead Horse at the end of its Sam Shepard season this year. For us in the audience, that means a “classic period” Shepard (which also receives lots of productions) gets the nod over a newer, less frequently produced monologue play that premiered in 2007.

For artistic director Adriana Baer, the switch was necessary if Profile wanted to stage the five key Shepard “family” plays this year (Curse of the Starving Class, Buried Child, Fool for Love, and A Lie of the Mind are the others).

“Having just returned from visiting the Sam Shepard Archives in the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, I realized that in leading a discussion of the work of Sam Shepard for our community, it was vital we provide Portland audiences an opportunity to see the quintet of family plays in its entirety,” Baer said in the press release. True West opens  November 6, 2014 on the Alder Stage at Artists Repertory Theatre. Tickets are currently on sale at

Marylhurst University sophomore Jordan VanSise is a finalist in the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards Student Focus competition, one of the ten finalists from around the world. His winning entry is above.

“This image was originally for a self-portrait assignment in one of my photography classes, VanSise was quoted in the press release. “I thought of the different “versions” of myself that I wanted to depict. I set my camera on a tripod and framed it how I wanted. Then I changed into different outfits and changed my spot on the couch, as well as making a variety of gestures. Afterwards I chose the shots I liked and put them together to make the final image.”

VanSise and the other finalists will be flown to London with their instructors to attend a gala ceremony in London where the recipient of the 2014 Student Focus Photographer of the Year title and the grand prize of €35,000 worth of Sony photographic equipment for the student’s school will be announced.

In addition, the finalists will see their “Self-portraits” series shown at Somerset House, London, May 1-18  and their work published in the 2014 edition of the annual Sony World Photography Awards book.

Stumptown Stages opens Elton John and Tim Rice’s version of Aida on February 20. The Egyptian love triangle stars Joann Coleman, James Langston Drake and Joy Martin, and will play in Brunish Theatre at Antoinette Hatfield Hall, 1111 SW Broadway, through March 9. Stumptown has given us a little taste in the preview below:

For ArtsWatch readers unable to attend the actual event: The University of Oregon continues its excellent series of live-streaming concerts at 7 pm tonight (February 19) from Beall Hall. Visiting professor and Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler will work with Beta Collide, a group of UO faculty musicians, as they perform a set of brand new compositions by Oregon Composer Forum students Alex Bean, John Goforth, Noah Jenkins, and Avery Pratt.

Each composer will introduce his work by talking about the compositional method and technical aspectsas well as the aesthetic and personal influences. Each composition will have two readings, and in between, Zeigler and Beta Collide will engage the composer in a discussion of the
composition and perhaps suggest a tweak here or there that may improve the music and may then be implemented in a second performance.

The program includes:

  • Noah Jenkins, Z-Stack (2014) for flute, bassoon, trumpet, cello, and piano: This piece is based on a technique used in photography and microscopy in which several photographs of the same image are taken at different focal distances and compiled into a single image with greater depth of focus than any of the individual images.
  • John Goforth, Trio (2014) for flute, cello, and piano: Inspired by exploring the different ways these three instruments can interact with each other and how energy can be passed, stalled, or even subtracted as it passes from each player to the other, Goforth shaped the piece as one of growth and expansion.
  • Avery Pratt, Bolero (2014) for Flute, Bassoon, Trumpet, and Cello: This work transforms and explores the style of the dance in a more modern context through the use of timbre, orchestration, tonality, and rhythmic
  • The work of Matt Zavortink and Alex Bean will also be performed.

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