community arts center

Vision 2020: Sean Andries and Carissa Burkett

Leaders of Newberg's Chehalem Cultural Center look forward to more performing arts, celebrating diversity, and exploring culture through a new culinary center

The Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg would be a remarkable resource even in the culturally rich neighborhoods of Portland. That it happens to be in rural Yamhill County serves as an inspiration to any community that seeks to create space for the arts.

Sean Andries, the center’s director, has been at the cultural center for two years following previous roles with Portland Center Stage and the Circus Project. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon in theater and arts administration and a PTP Certificate from the Dell’Arte School. Carissa Burkett, curator and director of arts programs, also has worked at the Chehalem center for a little more than two years. She received her BA in studio art from Azusa Pacific University and her MFA in visual arts from Vermont College of Fine Art.


VISION 2020: TWENTY VIEWS ON OREGON ARTS


The center is housed in a sprawling, two-story brick building just north of Newberg’s city library. Originally a school built in 1935 as a Works Progress Administration project, the building is owned by the Chehalem Park & Recreation District. The nonprofit cultural center is responsible for everything inside, including several visual art galleries and exhibition halls that have featured some stunning exhibitions over the past couple of years. There also are studios and classrooms for arts classes, clay work, and music recording; a 5,200-square-foot ballroom; and a kitchen/culinary arts studio. More is in the works, including a 250-seat theater. 

Carissa Burkett and Sean Andries are excited about the Chehalem Cultural Center’s new Cox Family Culinary Enrichment Center as an avenue to explore art and culture. “So much of our culture is wrapped up in the food we eat and the people we share it with,” Andries says.
Carissa Burkett and Sean Andries are excited about the Chehalem Cultural Center’s new Cox Family Culinary Enrichment Center as an avenue to explore art and culture. “So much of our culture is wrapped up in the food we eat and the people we share it with,” Andries says.

How would you characterize the general state of artistic and cultural life in Newberg and Yamhill County?

Burkett: Throughout the two years that I have been working at the CCC, I’ve seen exponential growth in the ways that the community engages with and is impacted by the center. 2020 will be the 10th year that the center has been running, and as with any organization, we spent a substantial amount of time establishing ourselves in the community, defining who we are and what it is that we do, and then trying to get the word out. In the past two years, our youth and adult art classes have almost doubled both in what we offer and in students signing up. The quantity and caliber of visual art exhibitions has grown and the engagement with these exhibits has taken off. Folks are excited about what is happening and there seems to be a significant impact, more than ever before.

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