PLAYA Gives Creative Opportunities

If you haven’t heard of PLAYA, the residency program for visual, performing and literary artists and scientists located in Summer Lake, Oregon, then you are missing out on the leaps and bounds that they are making in the creative thinking community. by Tori Youngbauer
During this past year, PLAYA has received grants and recognition for programming from the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Cultural Trust, Ford Family Foundation (Golden Spot Award), Oregon Community Foundation, Lake County Cultural Coalition and most recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
PLAYA has partnered with numerous organizations such as Oregon Humanities for the Barry Lopez Fellowship, Ashland Creek Press for the Siskiyu Prize for New Environmental Writing, High Country News for Diversity in Environmental journalism, Writing Ranch for the Waterston Prize for High Desert Writing, the Society for Photographic Education with their ImageMaker Award, and the Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowships, just to name a few.
So what makes PLAYA such a special place for artists and scientists to gather? PLAYA offers seclusion and quiet in a natural environment, and the opportunity for interaction, if desired, with a cohort of residents and the local rural community. A residency provides the time and space to create substantive work or to research and reflect upon one’s creative or scientific processes. Away from the urgencies of daily life, residents can focus on their projects, immerse in a desert landscape of basin and rangeland, and find inspiration through self-directed inquiry.
“We are truly excited about the achievements we’ve made,” says Executive Director Deborah Ford. “Our goal is to reach out to creative thinkers with similar sensibilities in order to cultivate a collaborative environment.” As the program becomes more nationally, and internationally known, PLAYA has more opportunities to become active members of the Central Oregon art scene. “We are able to give back to the community, while also giving residents a chance to learn and grow in this environment,” says Ford.
PLAYA began in 2011, and by 2013 the program took a break in order to reestablish their goals and expand. Now, residents from all over Oregon and the world are flocking to Summer Lake to be a part of residencies that can last anywhere from two to eight weeks at a time.
“We want to give our residents the chance to grow, as well as be a part of the wonderful Central Oregon art community,” says Ford. “We have travelling exhibits and events that will create a collaboration between our artists and the community at large.”
PLAYA offers monthly open studios, dance performances, up coming singer song writers, and poetry readings to the public.  In January, PLAYA will be exhibiting work from past residents at the Hallie Brown Ford Gallery in Roseburg, Oregon, Atelier 6000 in Bend in April and the World Forestry Center in Portland in July.

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