News & Events

‘Folk Arts in the Parks’ brings folk artists and performers to Oregon state parks

Six Oregon artists will deliver special presentations about the history and cultural significance of their crafts and traditions at state parks across Oregon during the month of June. “Folk Arts in the Parks” is sponsored by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) along with the University of Oregon’s Oregon Folklife Network (OFN), the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

“The program is a great opportunity to work with heritage and arts organizations to showcase cultural traditions in Oregon while also bringing people out to enjoy scenic state parks,” said Roger Roper, deputy state historic preservation officer with OPRD.

Each artist will appear with a folklorist from the OFN, the state’s designated folk and traditional arts program, in collaboration with a local arts organization. The featured events and presenters are:

“Cowboy Stories, Songs and Sing-alongs.” Award-winning singer and guitarist Barbara Nelson will perform cowboy poetry and songs. A horse lover and rider since childhood, Nelson grew up loving the cowboy movies and songs of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. In 2013, the Academy of Western Artists named Nelson as the female western singer of the year and presented her with the Will Rogers award. Presented in collaboration with Arts East. 7-9 p.m., Saturday, June 7, Blue Mountain-Emigrant Springs State Park.

“Latino Folk Music.” The trio Grupo Condor will perform a variety of Latino-based folk music. Through concerts and school programs, Grupo Condor blends the styles of Spanish, African and Native American influences that have created this tri-cultural art form. The performance also will feature an instrument petting zoo and discussion of the group’s instruments and their origins. Presented in collaboration with the Hillsboro Arts and Culture Council. 7-9 p.m., Saturday, June 14, at Stubbs Stewart State Park.

“Lutes and Flutes: Music of the Andes.” Andean musician and instrument maker Alex Lluminquinga Perez will perform traditional charango (lute) and quena (flute) music. Raised in Quito, Ecuador, Perez was a child when he first started playing music. In Oregon since 2001, he has performed in a range of venues, including schools, colleges, public libraries and music festivals. This program will include a display of Alex’s instruments and a make-and-take flute workshop (limited to 25 participants, 8 years and above). Presented in collaboration with Columbia Arts. Noon – 2 p.m., Sunday, June 15, Vista House at Crown Point.

“Warm Springs Regalia: Traditional Wasco Beadwork.” Roberta Kirk will demonstrate and explain how to create traditional Wasco beadwork, used to adorn powwow regalia and other ritual items. A member of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, Kirk – whose Wasco name is H’Klumaiyat – started sewing and beading as a young girl. She continues to do beadwork and to design traditional clothing for men, women and children. Her program will feature a display of her intricate and beautiful handiwork. Presented in collaboration with the Estacada Area Arts Commission. Noon – 2 p.m., Saturday, June 21, Milo McIver State Park.

“Jingle Dancing of the Paiute.” Julie Johnson of the Fort McDermott Paiute Shoshone Tribe will demonstrate traditional jingle dancing and beadwork. Julie makes Native American dance outfits for her family and friends who wear their regalia for powwow, dances and other special occasions. Julie, who also is an accomplished dancer, performed in the opening ceremony of the Salt Lake City Olympics. This event will also include a display of her handiwork. Presented in collaboration with the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture. 7-9 p.m., Saturday, June 21, Wallowa Springs State Park.

“Hip Hop with Mic.” Mic Crenshaw will entertain visitors with a hip-hop performance, stories and discussion. One of the most respected hip-hop artists in the Northwest, Crenshaw is a world-class MC and poet also prominent on the national and international scene as a performer and community activist. His debut solo CD, "Thinking Out Loud," spent 10 weeks in the top 10 on College Music Journal's (CMJ) National Radio Hip Hop Charts, peaking at number 4. Presented in collaboration with the Arts Council of Lake Oswego. 2-4 p.m., Sunday, June 29, Tyron Creek State Park.

All events are free and open to the public, and all ages are welcome—no registration is required. Some parks may charge for day-use parking permits. For more information about the Oregon Folklife Network, visit For directions to the parks, visit

Grant Deadline is May 15. What Happens Next?

Trust Cultural Development grant applications are due this Thursday, May 15, at 5pm and, as many cultural nonprofits put finishing touches on their proposals, others are asking, “What's next?”

The process of reviewing, evaluating, scoring and recommending proposed Trust Cultural Development grant projects will take place over the next two months and culminates in final approval by the Cultural Trust Board at its July 17 meeting.

Prior to that, staff and five independent subject expert panels will be busy reading, meeting, discussing, and ultimately ranking applications in the four categories supported by the Trust's Cultural Development Grant program: creativity, capacity, access and preservation.

After staff organizes the online applications, panelists will have three weeks to read, review and individually score the proposals in their category.

Panel meetings are scheduled in Salem, at 775 Summer St. NE, 97301, Conference  Room 201.

Creativity:  Tuesday, June 24, 8:30am-4pm

Capacity: Thursday, June 26, 8:30am-4pm

Access: Wednesday, July 9, 8:30am-4pm

Preservation: Friday, July 11, 8:30am-4pm

During those meetings, panelists will discuss the applications and score them collectively, moving the high-ranking proposals forward in the competitive process. These meetings are open to the public and can be accessed by attending the meeting in person or by webinar connection.  Information on how to access the webinar connection will be made public in advance of each panel meeting. Proposers are encouraged to attend the meetings, but will not be able to speak about their applications unless the panel asks a direct question.

After all panels have met, the Trust will convene a “Super Panel” of board members and statewide cultural partners, who will review the top ranking proposals in each category to make final recommendations to the Board, based on available funding.  After final recommendations are approved by the Trust Board on July 17, grant awards will be announced by the last week of July.

For more information, please call 503-986-0088 or email

Trust manager transition

Kimberly Howard, trust manager, recently accepted a position with PGE's Corporate Social Responsibility Team. Kimberly's last day with the Trust will be Thursday, May 15.

While we will be very sorry to lose Kimberly, this is an incredible opportunity for her and is a testimony to the great work she has done for the Trust during her five-year tenure.

At PGE, Kimberly will play a key role in helping develop and execute community investment strategies, with an emphasis on education and workforce development programs. She will work in collaboration with the human resources team to build collaborative partnerships with nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions. 

Kimberly's energy and enthusiasm will be missed but will be a great asset to PGE's work in the community. We wish her well.

We will begin a search for a new trust manager as soon as possible.

Peter Sears Named Oregon Poet Laureate

headshot of peter searsCorvallis poet becomes seventh to hold position

Governor John Kitzhaber has named Peter Sears of Corvallis to a two-year appointment as poet laureate of Oregon. Sears will be Oregon’s seventh poet laureate since 1921. He succeeds Paulann Petersen, who has held the post since 2010.

Sears came to Oregon in 1974 as writer-in-residence at Reed College. In the succeeding years he served as community services coordinator for the Oregon Arts Commission and director of the Oregon Literary Coalition, which he founded in 1993. He also taught in the Master’s of Fine Arts program at Pacific University.

"The selection committee was moved not only by the quality of Peter's poetry, but also by his record of working with communities across Oregon and supporting writers at every stage of their engagement with words,” says Adam Davis, executive director of Oregon Humanities. “I think Peter's selection--and the commitment and reach of the people who reviewed the many strong nominations--attest to Oregon's exceptionally vital and hopeful literary landscape."

Sears’ poems have been published in many periodicals, and he is the author of three full-length collections of poetry—Tour (1987), The Brink (1999) and Green Diver (2009)—and two supplementary textbooks. A fourth collection, Small Talk: New and Selected Poems, will be published by Lynx House Press this year. Among other awards, Sears received the Stewart A. Holbrook Award for Contribution to Oregon Literary Life from Literary Arts in 1999 and the Western States Book Award for Poetry from the Western States Arts Federation in 2000. In 2009, The Brink was named one of Oregon's 150 best books by the Oregon State Library.

“I would like to broaden the range of the Poet Laureate’s role to include the voices of diverse communities,” says Sears. “I call this ‘Expanding Voices.’ ”

The Oregon Poet Laureate fosters the art of poetry, encourages literacy and learning, addresses central issues relating to humanities and heritage, and reflects on public life in Oregon. Sears will provide at least six and up to 20 public readings per year in settings across the state to educate community, business and state leaders about the value and importance of poetry and creative expression. 

A 20-person committee of writers, poets and cultural leaders reviewed nominations for the position in March and made its recommendation to the Governor in April. The committee was assembled by the Oregon Cultural Trust and its statewide partners—Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Historical Society, the Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Humanities and the State Historic Preservation Office. The process was managed by Oregon Humanities, which administers the program for the Trust.

Past Oregon Poets Laureate were Edwin Charles Markham (1921–1940), Ben Hur Lampman (1951–1954), Ethel Romig Fuller (1957–1965), William Stafford (1974–1989) and Lawson Inada (2006–2010).

A public ceremony thanking Petersen and welcoming Sears is planned for later this year.

What Does It Take to be a Cultural Trust Grant Panelist?

Are you skilled at financial reports? Are you passionate about Preservation? Do you have experience in Nonprofit Management? Do you consider yourself a professional audience member, an arts advocate or enthusiast, a heritage or preservation volunteer? Are you deeply involved with the Humanities?

Have you ever wondered how Cultural Trust Development Grant Program proposals are reviewed and scored?

Now is the time to find out! 

If you are interested and qualified (or know someone else who is) and if you have the time to read and score multiple grant proposals followed by a day in Salem reviewing and recommending competitive proposals in an open, transparent forum, the Oregon Cultural Trust hopes you will apply (or nominate someone else) to be one of our FY2015 grant panelists!

Please read and fill out this nomination form and send it to, fax it to 503-986-0260 or mail it to: 775 Summer Street NE #200, Salem, OR 97301.

Your time and interest are deeply appreciated!

Oregon Cultural Trust/Oregon Arts Commission Executive Director Search Reopens

Following a preliminary round of interviews Wednesday, the screening committee for the Oregon Arts Commission/Oregon Cultural Trust executive director search has elected to reopen the search to ensure a pool of two to three finalists for the public round of interviews.

While impressed with initial applicants, the committee determined expanding the search will guarantee a stronger group of finalists. "We are committed to finding the best possible candidate to lead our organizations into the future," agreed Julie Vigeland, chair of the Arts Commission and Bob Speltz, chair of the Cultural Trust board. "If that requires spending more time on the process, we will do it."

Applications will be accepted at through Monday, April 28. Read the complete job posting here. Questions should be directed to Twyla Lawson, the state’s executive recruiter, at 


Oregon Heritage/Restore Oregon/SHPO Settlement Report


Did you know 4,600 barns were built by Oregon Trail Settlers through Willamette Valley land claims from 1841 and 1865?

And did you know only 23 remain?

But, with funding and support from the Cultural Trust and its partner, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Portland-based nonprofit Restore Oregon is taking steps to preserve the homes and barns that made up the original Pioneer settlements. In 2010 Restore Oregon (then called Historic Preservation League of Oregon), created an annual list of Oregon’s Most Endangered Places.

A grant from the Trust enabled them to do outreach and education about these old buildings, and community engagement around their restoration in more than 10 towns and cities statewide. They noticed that many applications came from Willamette Valley farms, all over 150 years old and, according to Restore Oregon Senior Field Programs Manager, Brandon Spencer-Hartle, “not up to code, or falling down.” Most of these properties have stayed in one family since the original settlements, said Spencer-Hartle. “Some of them are surrounded by cities and towns now, and maybe the current owner doesn’t know what to do.”

By the third year of the Endangered Places project, the organization decided to group the homesteads into one category, listing over 230 properties as Endangered Pioneer Era Settlements. “Instead of a campaign to save one building, it became a campaign to save several buildings or a type of building,” said Spencer-Hartle. Restore Oregon teamed up with SHPO, which did a nine-county survey over three months and released a report on its findings. “People came on the Oregon Trail and built their own barns with hand-hewn timber and no nails,” said Spencer-Hartle. “It was the beginning of Oregon’s agricultural history.”

The Oregon Trail may be Oregon’s most famous icon, as recognizable to many visitors as Mt. Hood. “We’ll lose the wagon ruts over time, but what will still be around, if we want them to be, are the original homesteads,” said Spencer-Hartle.

Applications are now in place for the National Park Service to place all these buildings on the National Historic Register of Places, but that could take six months or so. Meanwhile, Restore Oregon is planning community outreach, including informational “Preservation Pub,” nights at local brewpubs across the Willamette Valley. “Most of the restored houses become museums, government property, or private homes,” said Spencer-Hartle, but he believes that’s a limited scope of what the houses and barns could become.“There are opportunities for agricultural and heritage tourism, to turn the buildings into restaurants, tasting rooms, B&Bs, agri-B&Bs, outdoor concert venues. The question is, how do you reinvent these properties to be economically viable and have contemporary uses? It’s a new mentality.”

Selection Process Begins for Next Executive Director

By the time the job posting closed Thursday, more than 40 people had applied to become the next executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

The applications are currently being reviewed by the state’s executive recruiter, and those that meet the job requirements will be shared with a screening panel made up of Cultural Trust board members Bob Speltz and Carole Morse; Arts Commissioners Julie Vigeland and Libby Tower; and Shannon Planchon, interim executive director. They will meet to identify an initial pool of five to eight candidates by the end of March.

The first round of interviews should be completed by mid-April, when two or three finalists will be identified and announced. The final interview process will include both internal and external stakeholder forums, as well as interviews with the Governor (or his representative), Business Oregon Director Tim McCabe, and executive session interviews with both the Cultural Trust board and the Arts Commission.

The screening panel will then consult with McCabe, who should make the appointment decision and offer by early to mid-May.

Bill Flood Joins Trust, Partners as Cultural Coalition Coordinator

Trust Partners Provide Increased Cultural Coalition Support Activity

No matter where you are living in Oregon, if you’re involved with culture, you will see more of the Cultural Trust and its partners in the next several months.

Last winter all five statewide cultural partners, Oregon Heritage, Oregon Humanities, Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Arts Commission and the State Historic Preservation Office, elected to allocate a portion of its Cultural Trust collaborative project funding to contract with a community outreach liaison for the 36 Oregon county and five tribal cultural coalitions.

Bill Flood, a familiar name and face for many Coalition members due to his work in the early years of the Trust, won this contract. Planning began in early March.

A Fullbright Scholar (in 2008) and consultant for the City of Beaverton, Beaverton Arts Commission, City of Sherwood, Portland Community College, and the Confluence Project, to name a few, Flood has done planning for several cultural coalitions, including Clackamas and Yamhill County and has developed relationships with artists, cultural leaders and stakeholders in many communities across Oregon. “Bill will examine the information gathered in recent Coalition focus groups to develop the agenda for aa series of regional gatherings with Coalition members. The goal is to provide leadership development, share existing resources and assess each community’s needs,” according to Brian Wagner, Community Arts Coordinator for the Oregon Arts Commission.

Wagner will be managing the project, working with representatives from all the Cultural Partners and the Cultural Trust manager. Based on the information collected in the regional meetings, Flood will provide recommendations for future training programs, workshops and individual assistance to address community needs and leadership development in the arts, heritage and humanities. This final report will also include recommendations as to what the Trust and its partners should be doing with regard to outreach, capacity building, and leadership development.

Said Wagner, “This will not be a prescriptive plan. This is about really listening to and understanding each community’s needs and developing strategies to address them.”

Dr. Nathalie Johnson Appointed to Cultural Trust

One of many fascinating facts about Legacy Cancer Institute’s Nathalie McDowell Johnson, MD., FACS.: before she became a surgical oncologist and Medical Director of the Legacy Breast Health Centers, she was a dancer with the Ballet Theatre of the Virgin Islands.

Nathalie (pronounced “Nay-Tha-Lee”) Johnson, who lives in Portland, was confirmed by the Oregon State Senate for her appointment to the Oregon Cultural Trust Board by Governor John A Kitzhaber, MD. Her Board service began March 1.

A graduate of Howard University, Johnson went on to attend medical school at The University of Virginia and do residency and surgical internship at University of Southern California.

Though she says she still dances, “at a good party,” Johnson’s medical practice, women’s breast health, and education about breast cancer has become her professional crusade. Johnson’s own mother, Lucy George, survived breast cancer in Johnson’s childhood, an experience that had a profound influence on her.

George also instilled in young Nathalie the importance of the arts. Growing up on St. Thomas, Johnson recalled that her mother, “enrolled us in ballet, took us to plays, the opera, musicals. She made sure to expose us because, as the daughter of a domestic and a railroad worker in the 40s, these were things she dreamed of but could not access.”

Johnson comes to the Cultural Trust Board with a goal of increased accessibility for under-served populations. “I would love to make sure all Oregonians have the opportunity to take part in the culture, art and heritage that is available,” said Johnson. Exuding a warmth of character and soothing demeanor, she noted that young people in particular need access to the arts. “My mother taught us that, with imagination and creativity, there is no time for boredom.”

Johnson constantly has her eye on the intersection between her two passions, art and medicine. The Legacy Cancer Institute incorporates art therapy into its programs for children and adults. “Being able to express yourself through art or music is healing,” said Johnson. Music is also played in the institute’s Intensive Care Unit, which Johnson says, “slows the heart rate and improves the breathing,” for critically ill patients and those at the end of life. “Music actually decreases their need for pain medication,” she said. The peace and tranquility the arts provide, “can make a big difference in health outcomes.”

Trust Board Chair Bob Speltz was intrigued by Johnson’s perspective as a physician. “Dr. Johnson understands the very tangible ways in which access to culture ties directly to improved quality of life,” said Speltz. “Her steadfast commitment to expanding access to and participation in culture in Oregon is extraordinary, and her earlier life as a dancer gives her a context for culture as a viable career choice.”