David Humphrey, director for the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University, comes from a musical background. Along with his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in the fields of Music Education and Opera Production, he holds a certificate in flute. Humphrey is implementing the new interdisciplinary arts direction at SOU. This is the second of a two-part interview. The first was published Nov. 30.
EH: How are you bringing the arts together at SOU?
DH: Along with the Oregon Fringe Festival, we produced the Lunacy Theater Festival. The music and theater world were involved with that. Theater Arts will be doing a musical, “The Secret Garden,” as a staged reading, in the Music Recital Hall; it’s collaboration between the Music and Theater Arts Departments. All SOU students will be allowed to audition.
This year the president wanted an athletic band, so we created a band to play at football games. I decided, “We’re small, we’re unique, we have a great jazz band. Let’s put together an electronic athletic band,” which we did. The sound was huge. But sports fans said, “This is not like OSU or The University of Oregon. Why are we doing this?” So now we have something more traditional.
We have a new director at the Schneider Museum (Scott Malbaurn). He is very collaborative. He has some really exciting plans. We’re looking at expansion. I think that it’s going to be a premier contemporary art museum on the West Coast.
We are creating an MBA for the arts. It will be unique. There are a lot of arts management degrees across the country, but an MBA means that you are more serious about the business. If you have an undergraduate degree in the arts, that’s the right combination.
We have Dance Studies, but we don’t have a degree in it. I’m trying to form a dance festival connected with the university, to start drawing students to dance. We could have an outdoor festival. Ultimately I could see it happening at Britt, at the end of their season.
JPR is building an addition to the theater building for their new headquarters. They will be part of the performing arts complex. They’ll bring in artists that students will have access to and studios that students will be able to use.
We have a Masters in Theater Production and a Masters in Music. The plan is to develop a Masters in Shakespeare Studies. We’ve been toying with the idea of a MFA for theater. There are some strong arguments against it: that the focus is on the graduate students, not the undergraduate students, and we are known for that undergraduate program. My thought is that we would put the MFA downtown, and it would run in collaboration with the Shakespeare Festival. That is an ultimate thought. When I see the right facility, I’m going to try to jump on it.
I’m always looking at two things: “What is the future?” and “What are jobs in the future?” If you go to a movie, the credits go on with hundreds (if not thousands) of people who worked on this film, in all kinds of capacities. There are lots of possibilities for young artists to work in that field. Maybe we should look a little more into our technology and digital arts area. Fine Arts is a foundation for us, but as graduates, there are jobs in technology and business.
We have a great faculty, and we have great students. Our job is to provide broader horizons.
For information about the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University, visit: OCA.SOU.EDU.
The Oregon Fringe Festival will take place May 9-14, 2016.
Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director living in Ashland. She trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theatre and was a founding cast member at San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Reach her at email@example.com.