News & Notes: A fanfare for funds

Two big gifts aid the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and five Portland groups; new faces at the Miller Foundation and the Oregon Arts Commission; a leadership incubator wants you.


The 31st annual free Tuba Christmas Concert, featuring as many as 200 big-horn musicians, will be at downtown Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square on Dec. 10. The Square is one of five recipients sharing a $2 million bequest from the Harriet Cormack Estate.

If money makes the world go ’round, the Oregon cultural scene is spinning just a little faster this week.

The big news, as Marty Hughley reported in his most recent DramaWatch column, was a $10 million grant awarded to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival by the Hitz Foundation, to be played out over five years, and with no restrictions on how it’s spent: The festival can put the money wherever it deems best. As Hughley noted, the grant comes at an excellent time for the festival, which has been hit in recent seasons by a double whammy of Covid shutdowns and a crippling string of bad fire and smoke seasons: Attendance since live shows resumed has been just 46 percent of pre-Covid totals.


That wasn’t the only big financial news of the week. On Thursday the Harriet Beal Cormack Estate announced a $2 million bequest to be split among five Portland area nonprofit cultural organizations:

  • All Hands Raised, which focus on student success in Multnomah County schools and at home, with a concentration on racial equity;
  • Home Forward Community Partnerships, a public corporation that contracts with the federal government to administer housing programs;
  • Oregon Public Broadcasting, which operates public television and radio stations, produces original shows, and maintains a significant news department;
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square, “Portland’s Living Room,” which is the city’s main downtown square and which operates a busy schedule of public arts and cultural events (the big tree-lighting ceremony will be Friday, Nov. 25, and the 31st annual Tuba Christmas Concert on Saturday, Dec. 10); and
  • Regional Arts & Culture Council, which operates public art and arts education programs, and disburses money from various government sources to arts and cultural organizations across greater Portland.

Harriet Beal Cormack, who died on June 9 of this year, was, in the estate’s words, “a philanthropic leader with an unflinching ‘can-do’ approach, big ideas for a Portland in need of them, and commitment to the fine print needed to see them through.” She came to Portland from Seattle in 1986 to play a key role in development of the South Waterfront Urban Renewal district, from which the new RiverPlace neighborhood emerged. She remained a significant player in the city’s civic life, often advocating for public/private partnerships. Her $2 million gift will be divided evenly among the five organizations.

A new leader for the Miller Foundation

Veteran nonprofit leader Carrie Hoops will become the foundation’s executive director. Photo courtesy of the Miller Foundation.

Meanwhile, the James F. and Marion L Miller Foundation, one of Oregon’s biggest charitable foundations, announced new leadership this week. Longtime nonprofit leader Carrie Hoops will become the foundation’s executive director effective Jan. 17, 2023. She’ll replace Martha Richards, who is retiring after 14 years at the foundation’s helm.


The Miller Foundation is a big player in the state’s arts, education, and social-service worlds, helping to fund a broad spectrum of organizations throughout the nonprofit ecosystem. Hoops, a native Oregonian, has been active in the state’s nonprofit world for 32 years, including a decade at Literary Arts as well as stints at Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology, Oregon Humanities, Portland Children’s Theatre, the old Artquake summer celebration, Oregon Ballet Theatre, and the social services agency William Temple House, among others. She’s also been executive director of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon.

Oregon Arts Commission adds a member

Stephanie Kim joins the Oregon Arts Commission board. Photo courtesy Oregon Arts Commission.

Also this week, the Oregon Arts Commission announced its newest commissioner, Stephanie Kim of Hillsboro, who is a graduate in textiles from the Rhode Island School of Design and a senior color designer for Nike. Gov. Kate Brown appointed Kim to a four-year term, effective immediately, on the nine-member commission.

Kim joined Nike and moved to Oregon in 2016 after working for several major brands in New York City’s fashion industry. She sits on the boards of the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council and Washington County’s Five Oaks Museum, and is active as a mentor in the Korean immigrant community. “I strongly believe in the power of art and feel it is my duty to be a bridge for Korean immigrants and the wider Asian community to fully integrate into society and create accessibility in the arts,” Kim said in a release Friday from the arts commission.

She joins fellow commissioners Subashini Ganesan-Forbes and Avantika Bawa of Portland, chair Jenny Green of Bend, David Harrelson of Grand Ronde and Dundee, Roberta Lavadour of Pendleton, Kamilah Long of Ashland, vice chair Harlen Springer of Florence, and Matthew Stringer of Ontario.

Among its many functions, the Oregon Arts Commission provides financial grants to arts organizations and individual artists throughout the state.

The Leadership Incubator wants you

2020 Leadership Incubator participant Emily Miller in her studio. Photo courtesy of Tualatin Valley Creates.

Tualatin Valley Creates is looking for artists to join the third year of its Arts & Culture Leadership Incubator program, and you might just fit the bill. If you think you do, you have until Nov. 30 to apply.

What’s the Incubator? “Part-leadership development, part-business incubator, the Arts and Culture Leadership Incubator supports [Washington County] artists and cultural advocates in building a thriving, inclusive cultural and creative environment for our community,” TVC explains it. Faculty members and guest speakers provide workshops covering “topics ranging from the business aspects of being an artist to challenging methodologies around what it takes to be a community leader.”


Portland Opera Puccini in Concert Keller Auditorium Portland Oregon

A year and a half ago Brett Campbell wrote an extensive story for ArtsWatch, Cultivating Creative Community, explaining in some detail how it all works. If you think you might be interested, read his story – and get going on that application.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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