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What Went Down At The Big Think

The Oregon Cultural Advocacy Coalition  spent Friday May 16th in closed-door talks in Forest Grove, discussing goals  for state support of arts and culture. The audio at the top of this story is what you heard on this week’s show. For extended interviews with three of the participants, scroll down.

The group is populated by some of the biggest players in the arts - the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and The Portland Art Museum. Some mid-sized groups are represented - the Eugene Symphony and Bend’s High Desert Museum. Preservationists, Oregon Humanities, and the Oregon Historical Society are involved. And - full disclosure - OPB’s President also had a seat at the table.

The Coalition is chaired by Chris Coleman, artistic director at Portland Center Stage. He spoke to us last Saturday about what was discussed.

The background for The Big Think is a shift change at the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust. The state is in the midst of hiring a new executive to run both. The last person to hold the job, Chris Darcy, was ousted last year. Parties in the Big Think deny it, but there have been some indications that Coalition members were dissatisfied with Darcy’s leadership on funding issues.

Neil Bryant, an attorney from Central Oregon, told us there was no overt discussion of state leadership, but plenty of talk about whether the Coalition should ask the state to alter the structures that administer arts and culture money.

No major decisions were made at the meeting. State Senator Betsy Johnson was one of several legislators who were invited. Reps.Val Hoyle, Peter Buckley, Cliff Bentz, and Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward were there, too. Johnson explained if the group wants to seek state help, it’ll have to act soon.

Chris Coleman told us there has to be a next step. He wants to get all the ideas thrown around  distilled into something concrete.  
And some who were there also acknowledged there were many other stakeholders not in the room who’d likely have things to say about an agenda. The Coalition has posted this online survey, which is live til the end of the month.

Miss our interview with Chris Coleman and CAC Executive Director Christine Drazan in March?

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