by RENEE PATRICK Cascade A&E Editor
Art was my favorite class in school when growing up. I learned how to throw clay, carve soapstone, draw, etch and the best part: get messy with paints. The climate for arts education in today’s schools is much different than it was 20 years ago: budget cuts, curriculum changes and the impact of No Child Left Behind has created a vacuum for creative arts in schools. That’s why the Black & White Fundraiser for Arts Central’s work is so crucial to the health and vitality of our children and communities, through their efforts to make the arts accessible to all, and by integrating the arts into all aspects of community life, they can mitigate some of the impact of dwindling arts programs in schools.
“The need for arts education in the schools is extremely serious,” explained Arts Central Executive Director Cate O’Hagan. “Almost 25 percent of our budget (or $100,000) comes from the Black & White Fundraiser, with all proceeds going to support the organization’s arts education programs. This event is critically important.”
The programming offered by Arts Central ranges from the Art Station, Central Oregon’s only nonprofit visual arts school; Artists in Schools, a team of over 30 professional artists working with students and teachers; and VanGo, a community outreach program giving children in rural communities and at-risk youth access to arts education.
“Art Station is the largest freestanding art school east of the Cascades,” O’Hagan said. “If we were extracted from this market there would be basically no visual arts education. There are a number of instructors, artists and studios who are doing smaller scale programs, but the breadth of what we cover is greater than what anyone else is doing.”
Arts Central took a hit during the recent recession, as they saw an almost 40 percent drop in their budget. “During the recession a lot of our students left town…and to protect our ‘internal organs’ we hunkered down and weren’t doing as much outreach as we didn’t have the staff,” O’Hagan explained. “Standing today, we did pull through. We are now in the process of carefully rebuilding and figuring out the best ways to proceed. The environment for arts education has changed since 2007. We are assessing: what is the new environment? What can we do and how?”
O’Hagan touts the Art Station as their biggest asset as it serves as Arts Central’s laboratory where they develop new curriculum, train teachers and test the results through programs like VanGo. VanGo, the decorated Honda Element, is a mobile art studio complete with supplies and an art instructor. To date, VanGo has traveled to 30 sites in four counties, reaching over 2,250 underserved kids.
VanGo helps nonprofit service agencies and community organizations throughout Central Oregon strengthen their programs to build a stronger support system for children through art; partnership organizations include Partners in Care Camp Courage, St. Charles Healthcare’s cancer program, Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Oregon, Head Start and Mary’s House.
In the next phase of Arts Central’s operations, they plan to increase the resources put into professional development, thus increasing their ability to train teachers how to teach art and how integrate it into their studies.
The board of directors has been elemental in helping the organization survive and now thrive. “Every single board member is appropriate for this organization, has the means to help support, garner support and plays a hands-on roll,” O’Hagan said. “We have a leadership policy making board, and the people are willing to do more grass roots work like coming into the office and helping out, taking on development and membership processing jobs and running the Black & White.”
In addition to the programming offered for all ages and their outreach activities, Arts Central plays a vital role in supporting the community and local artists. As the Regional Arts & Culture Council, they collaborate with businesses and city governments to bring the arts into every facet of our region.
Arts Central spearheaded a collaborative cultural tourism effort by pulling together representatives from four regional Cultural Coalitions of the Oregon Cultural Trust, Scenic Byways and the Central Oregon Visitors Association to create a Cultural Byways discovery brochure. They also initiated and sponsored the formation of the Arts & Culture Alliance (ACA) that now has over 30 local member organizations working together to promote, enhance and expand Central Oregon’s art and culture opportunities.
Arts Central needs your help to continue offering arts education programming in schools and to provide opportunities for anyone looking to get messy with paints or learn a new artistic skill. Consider attending the Black & White on September 21 and supporting this vital local organization.
Black & White – An Elegant Evening of Arts & Community September 21
The annual event, held at Bend Country Club on September 21, is in its 10th year of raising funds to support Arts Central’s programming. What began on the Mirror Pond Plaza a decade ago, is now a celebrated gathering where supporters can bid on live and silent auction items and enjoy an evening of fine dining.
“At our first Black & White Gala our volunteers organized everything from cooking the food to setting up the event,” Executive Director Cate O’Hagan said. “When reflecting on the event today, Arts Central and the Black & White has had a good trajectory.”
Attendees will enjoy a glass of champagne upon their arrival as they browse the different live auction items. “We try to auction art from local artists,” commented Black & White Organizer and Arts Central Board Member Marsha Stout. “This year we have pieces from the Lubbesmeyer Gallery, Douglas Fine Jewelry, Rhodes Smithy Studio, Sandy Brooke and more, along with wine dinners from Jackalope Grill and Bend Wine Cellar, two trips to Tuscany, a trip to New Orleans and a Portland cultural getaway.”
The silent auction will feature over 50 items like a magnum of wine from Archery Summit, Tower Theatre tickets, local golf packages and plenty of local art.
“What’s vital for everyone to know about the Black & White and Arts Central is that we provide art for students of all ages, especially those in underserved areas,” said Stout. “Without us a lot of kids wouldn’t get art instruction and it’s such a valuable component of their education. I have an art degree myself, it is such an important part of who I am, and I want to make sure children are given every opportunity to experience art and culture.”