High Desert Museum, BendFilm Making Waves with Help from Murdock Trust

The High Desert Museum and Bend Film completed a two-year national program on how to build successful, sustainable arts organizations in a crowded and shifting marketplace thanks to support from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. The Murdock Trust supported a total of 13 arts nonprofits from rural Oregon and SW Washington in completing the program.

“The challenges facing arts nonprofits are unique, and when the organizations are in rural locations, they are less connected to the resources and training that can help them succeed. Our trustees wanted to connect arts organizations in rural areas with the tools, training and resources they need to succeed,” said Dr. Steve Moore, executive director of Murdock Trust.

The organization leading the training was the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland. This is the second group of Northwest arts nonprofits that the Murdock Trust has supported through the DeVos program. The program consists of seminars, online master classes and individual consultation on topics such as long-term artistic planning, board development, marketing and strategic planning. The goal is to foster sustainable growth at arts nonprofits in rural Oregon and Washington.

“Working with the DeVos program’s advisors really helped us shift our thinking about how to grow the museum family and excite the community with dynamic exhibits and programming,” said High Desert Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “Working with DeVos helped us be more organized and targeted. We appreciate that the Murdock Trust and other foundations are helping support innovative thinking in arts organizations.”

“Rural cultural organizations like BendFilm are thriving but do not have as many known resources as those cultural organizations in bigger cities. The DeVos program helped our board and staff shift expectations and cultivate the enormous opportunity we do have right in our community. DeVos helped solidify this organization’s belief that a strong arts organization builds a strong community and local economy,” said Todd Looby, executive director of BendFilm.


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