Oregon Community Foundation goes for the ‘Heights’

OCF distributes $1.1 million to 13 Oregon arts groups for its Creative Heights grant

The Oregon Community Foundation has announced the first set of grants for the Creative Heights Initiative, a major arts component of the $150 million Fred W. Fields Fund. Designed “to help arts and culture organizations take strategic risks in the creation and dissemination of high-quality new works in Oregon, as well as support unique opportunities for Oregonians to experience innovative arts and culture,” the initiative funded 13 separate projects, totaling $1,102,300.

When Fred W. Fields died in 2011, he left $150 million to the Oregon Community Foundation to establish the Fred W. Field Fund, stipulating that the money go to education and arts. One of the arts-oriented programs, the Creative Heights Initiative, is aimed at funding “dream” projects—ideas that pushed them and the state into new territory, but which often sit on the shelf for lack of money.

Artists Repertory Theatre will use its OCF grant to fund a new-play development program. Above, Dana Millican and Danielle Purdy star in the world premiere of  Andrea Stolowitz's "Ithaka"/Owen Carey

Artists Repertory Theatre will use its OCF grant to fund a new-play development program. Above, Dana Millican and Danielle Purdy star in the world premiere of Andrea Stolowitz’s “Ithaka”/Owen Carey

Here’s a bare-bones description of the selected proposals. We’ll be getting into them more as they start to “hit the street,” and we’ll attempt some sort of assessment of the impact they have, though that will take a couple of years to figure out.

The list:

Artists Repertory Theatre, $125,000, to support an innovative new play commissioning program, supporting both local and national playwrights, especially underrepresented theater voices.

Caldera, $75,000, to fund a series of community arts project bringing both local and LA artists to Portland neighborhoods to examine such issues as equity, cultural heritage, food systems, generational knowledge and environment, through various media.

Cappella Romana, $90,000, to help educate more singers, especially women, in the intricacies of Byzantine music notation.

Eugene Concert Choir, $125,000, to commission a 30-minute choral-orchestral work by Oregon composer Joan Szymko, who will consider the challenges of Alzheimer’s disease for patients and their families.

Hand2Mouth Theatre, $45,000, to create a new theater work inspired by Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho.”

High Desert Museum, $125,000, to develop interdisciplinary programming that revisits the prolific programs of the WPA through literature, music, theater, film and visual arts. The museum has commissioned three artists to create work that responds to the state of Oregon today.

Independent Publishing Resource Center, $45,000, to launch a tri-yearly, multidisciplinary concert series, beginning with two events in fall 2014, that will pair nationally recognized musicians with writers, visual artists, and collaborative, hands-on art-making activities. Writer Neil Gaiman will be involved in the project.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival, $125,000, to expand its international programming by staging the U.S. premiere of Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land, by Taiwanese playwright Stan Lai.

PHAME, $35,000, to integrate performers both with and without developmental disabilities in a full-length musical theatre work written by Oregon artists Laura Gibson (composer) and Debbie Lamedman (playwright).

Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, $75,000, to continue its experiments with the traditional residency program with the Creative Exchange Lab, which will bring Oregon artists together with their national/international peers to seed new collaborative and cross-disciplinary projects.

Portland Piano International, $90,000, to support the Rising Star Series, which will feature young pianists in recital and new commissioned piano works by Oregon-based composers.

Rainbow Dance Theatre, $125,000, to experiment with real-time tracking and audience participation technology for a series of concerts.

Third Angle New Music, $22,300, to support Frozen Music: light and music in Aalto’s library, a musical installation at the Mt. Angel Abbey Library, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, featuring music related to the library’s collection and the Finnish composers of Aalto’s era.


I participated in an OCF advisory panel that made recommendations for this grant, though, naturally, some of my own choices weren’t selected.

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