The big annual Oregon Arts Summit — bringing arts folk together to network and support them in rallying the public to the arts — will be held in Ashland this year and will include tours of Schneider Museum of the Arts, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and other arts hot spots.

The important event, Oct. 1 through 3, will showcase some local art, says chief organizer David Humphrey, director of the Oregon Center for the Arts (OCA) at Southern Oregon University, but is mainly to “to draw arts leaders from around the state for creative exchange, to make the arts communities strong, to build the public will for the arts and to allow people to network.”

Ashland Hills Hotel will the host lodging for the gathering. Activities on the first day will center around Schneider at SOU, where OCA will host a reception and talks about “visual arts ecology,” led by Meagan Atiyeh, Visual Arts & Public Arts Coordinator for the Oregon Arts Commission. The OAC sponsors the gathering each year.

The events at the SOU arts complex will explain the museum and its arts, says Humphrey, and showcase the new exhibit, “Breaking Pattern.” People will be able to meet Humphrey and new museum director Scott Malbaurn.

“It’s a big deal, because (the summit) hasn’t been here in Ashland,” he says. “We’ll showcase our local artists. It’s important for the networking that will take place. It’s a great project enabling arts people to collaborate.”

Summit participants will do the restaurants of Ashland together on the evening of Oct. 1. On Friday, Oct. 2, attendees will hear talks by Julie Vigeland, chair of the Oregon Arts Commission, Rep. Peter Buckley of Ashland and Brian Rogers, executive director of OAC.

They will enjoy a performance by the Ballet Folklorico Ritmo Alegre and hear a keynote address by Roberto Bedoya of the Tucson Pima Arts Council and creator of PLACE (People, Land, Arts, Culture and Engagement), a platform that supports critical community issues. Following will be a “conversation” with Bedoya and Luis Alfaro, a Chicano performance artist, writer and activist in Los Angeles.

“There will be a session on how lots of arts play to wealthy, white folks,” says Humphrey, “so this will be about access, equity and inclusion in the arts — reaching out to the low economic community, the minority community.”

It will include a talk by Martha Richards on “Building Public Will" and a talk by OSF’s Audience Development Manager Fred Casilias on how the Festival broadens its base in these ways, says Humphrey.

On Saturday morning, Oct. 3, OSF will offer attendees a behind-the-scenes tour of the new production facility for the scene shop and costumes that will show how a repertory theater operates and how sets are built.

Participant Denise Baxter, executive director of the Ashland Arts Center, notes, “It’s such a wonderful thing. It gives people a chance to look up. We work in kind of a vacuum here, so busy doing our jobs. It’s a chance to tell our stories and strengthen our region. It’s about building public will for the arts and for us in the arts to exchange ideas and furthering our goals and networks.”

The new Oregon Center for the Arts on the SOU campus offers academic units in music, theater, art history, emerging media, digital arts, writing and other areas, but, says Humphrey, goes beyond that to include partnerships with the Schneider Museum, chamber music concerts, the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, Jefferson Public Radio and others.

John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at