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About

As coverage of the fine and performing arts in other media continues to drop dramatically, Oregon ArtsWatch has become the state’s leading arts journal, a key source for in-depth, informed arts coverage that organizations and patrons don’t find anywhere else.

Photo by Friderike Heuer

MISSION STATEMENT

Oregon ArtsWatch produces arts journalism that is fundamentally useful to the public interest. Our goal is to discover, report on and evaluate art that we think is most important to the public, and then to encourage discussion by the public of that art and the issues it raises.

Our journalism is professional – independent, transparent, fair, accurate and responsive – and we aspire to be a trusted public source for journalism about the arts.

NONDISCRIMINATION NOTICE

Oregon ArtsWatch does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national or ethnic origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status.

LAND ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Osiyo nigada,

We are on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other Indigenous Peoples who lived in intricate rhythm with our natural systems. For at least 11,000 years, they have created communities and encampments to embrace and harvest the pulses and resources of this area, they still do.

We recognize that our area today includes many diverse Native people who continue living in cadence with the natural ebb and flow. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities, past, present and future, and support their ongoing influence.

Native peoples continue to suffer the effects of genocide, relocation and cultural destruction, but ultimately, we are all, every form of life on the planet, sisters, brothers and others, together. As we acknowledge our Native ancestors’ resilience, wisdom and grasp of natural reality, may they inspire us to find more of it within ourselves, in confluence for all.

Wado

Joe Martin Cantrell
Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
Modified from an acknowledgment from the Portland Parks Foundation
This version initially given at the Oregon Symphony Concert at Waterfront Park, September 2021

WHAT WE DO AND WHO WE ARE

OUR REACH

From July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022:

  • 4.54 million Google impressions
  • 529,787 page views
  • 272,553 users
  • 691 stories published

DEMOGRAPHICS

The highest age group is 25-34, a key target for arts organizations looking to diversify audience participation.

ARTSWATCH IN THE NEWS


“I am quite amazed at what you have created with Oregon Arts Watch – an entire online ecology of arts journalism covering nearly every aspect of the arts throughout many regions of Oregon, not only replacing what print journalism once did but going well beyond in scope and depth.” Devoted reader and patron

KEY INITIATIVES

●  Underreported communities, which we define as ethnic, cultural, gender, age, geographic, and smaller arts organizations: It’s our goal to tell the stories of these communities, and to find correspondents who represent them who can provide an inside look.

●  Statewide coverage: It’s our goal to tell stories from a variety of places around the state and reflect the distinct cultures from different regions.

●  New contributors: We consciously work to identify, train, and mentor young or less experienced writers.

These initiatives meet these strategic objectives: diversify our coverage, amplify the voices of marginalized communities, strengthen our organization, provide fresh perspectives, nurture a new generation of cultural journalists, offer sustainability.

KEY PROJECTS

●  Arts Education: Much evidence points to the importance of the arts as a key to learning. An expansive series explains what is working, what is still needed, and what points the way forward.

 Indigenous History and Resilience in Oregon: An expansive series of stories explores the shift from the intended erasure of tribal identities in the past to institutions and groups that are actively claiming, fostering, and celebrating Indigenous identity in the present

Warm Springs: Then and Now: Portraits of tribal members taken 30 years ago will be revisited and updated, comparing the old with the new. 

Gender Deconstruction: A broad series of written and photo essays will focus on the specific issues that face the gender nonconforming and trans community.

Cultural Hubs: Cultural centers fill a vital role in communities, often serving multiple functions as performance halls, art galleries, historical repositories, gathering places, and educational resources. In rural areas, they can be the only cultural touchstone for miles around. This series profiles a variety of these essential hubs, with priority given to centers in rural areas and smaller cities, and examines how they uniquely serve and reflect their communities. With these stories, we will increase visibility, build audiences, generate economic revenue, produce a broad cultural snapshot of the state, provide a window into the many distinct communities that enrich it, and help to bridge the urban/rural divide.

PURPOSE AND GOALS

We believe that the arts play a central role both in individual lives and in a democratic society, and Oregon ArtsWatch provides ever more useful descriptions of this dynamic interplay – the arts, the individual, the culture. We will discover, report and comment on art that we think is most important to the public, and encourage discussion by the public of that art and the issues it raises. We are committed to being a trusted public source for stories about the arts, written in a manner that is independent, transparent, fair, accurate and responsive.

We report on Oregon and Northwest culture here, mostly the arts end of that culture, though we may digress from time to time, because the arts are permanently entangled within life itself, life in all its degrees and stations. The arts offer special benefits to the culture – a model for the finest execution of our daily tasks and momentary respite from those tasks, a space to consider the deepest problems and greatest joys we face as individual humans and societies, a place to wonder and laugh and celebrate together.

Deep down, we think that the arts are central to the sustenance, renovation, celebration and re-creation of our life together in the Northwest. They aren’t a decoration or a sideshow. They give us an ongoing reflection of ourselves. They suggest solutions. They grieve and roar in pain and anger. They know when things aren’t fair, and they speak out. At least at their best, they do. And then they encourage us to think and feel along with them. This sense of social cohesion, a sense of the whole, this common sense, is often missing from our national lives, and it has made democracy itself difficult to conduct. We believe that Oregon has a chance to generate a common sense that is complicated and practical and adaptive. And if we are going to succeed, it will be because the arts have helped us create a shared language, shared experiences and ultimately, shared values – even if one of those is respect for deeply held values that we don’t share.

Most arguments for support of the arts seem either tangential or tepid. We believe that we won’t have a functioning democracy without arts to feed and nourish us. We won’t have a vigorous economy without arts to inspire and model our creative response to the world. We won’t have healthy individuals without the insight and space for insight that the arts provide. Sure, there are direct economic benefits to art activity. And sure, we benefit inherently from living in an environment that is more “aesthetic” than less. But what’s at stake in this is more crucial than these byproducts of a healthy shared culture.

The arts remind us that we are in this together. That we aren’t alone in our particular thoughts and feelings. That things can be made right and whole, if just for a moment. They remind us that the individual can do great things, and so can individuals acting together. And somehow, they resolve the great tension of American life, that between the rightful autonomy of the individual and the responsibilities that come with belonging to a group. We can’t imagine a good outcome to our dire problems – as a community, a nation, a planet – without the complex lessons the arts teach us.

We believe that the processes of discovery, explanation and discussion of journalism have an important role to play in all of this. An “informed citizenry” extends to cultural matters, and that is the mission of Oregon ArtsWatch – to help those of us in this particular cultureshed support and create arts and culture that respond to our needs.

Barry Johnson
Executive Editor Emeritus and Founder,
Oregon ArtsWatch