A Personal Farewell and Thank You
For the past four years, it has been my privilege to be the Executive Director of the Columbia Center for the Arts. At the end of September, I will be retiring and leaving this wonderful art venue, and I wanted to bid a personal farewell and say thank you to all of you for generous support of our efforts here at the Center.
We have had many exciting events, exhibitions, and classes that have been so much fun to bring to the community. This is all possible because of the extraordinary staff who work so hard and dedicate themselves to offering events that expand thinking around the arts, bring joy to so many, and dig deep into the wide spectrum of artistic means of expression. It has been a real pleasure to work with these staff members to create this programming. They are an exceptional group of people, and I thank them for sharing their creativity.
During the time I have worked with this wonderful team, I especially loved:
- The creation of the CCA Children’s Theatre program, which includes a season of plays, a teen theatre apprentice, and summer workshops. One of my favorite experiences at the Center was a children’s theatre performance of Merry Christmas, Strega Nona performed for 125 second graders. Watching those delighted kids lean into the play (many seeing a live play for the first time) and then actively participate in a Q&A with the teen actors was a wonderful thing to see. This program is thriving due to the talents of our Artistic Director Sullivan Mackintosh and supporters like you.
- Monthly themed exhibitions in the Gallery, which are master-minded by the extraordinary Gallery Manager Carolyn Smith. The Columbia Arts Gallery has become a spectacular venue for local artists, for regional and national shows, for challenging exhibits about culture, and for thought-provoking shows about everything from abstract art to fiber arts to metal and woodworking to photography to art as activism. The Gallery has become a place to experience a wide variety of art styles and themes and to contemplate the place of art in our lives.
- Our Seniors & the Arts program, which brings visual arts, literary arts, art presentations, and theatre arts to senior venues around the Gorge. Directing performances of the play Doctor, Doctor at Down Manor was a highlight for me. The first-time actors were game for anything (including our 92-year-old leading man), and a performance in front of an audience of 100 was a big success and so much fun. As one of the actors wrote to me, “Thank you for making us feel good about ourselves.”
- In the Theatre, dance events like Oregon Ballet Theatre, Body Vox, and the Jefferson Dancers have sold out to audiences of all ages and thrilled all of us with their styles. Our 10th anniversary PoTENtial program offered some of the best art experiences I have had in the Gorge—providing opportunities to learn so much about a spectrum of art forms.
These are only a small sample of the many art offerings we have experienced the past few years, and there are so many great things planned for the future. I hope you will all continue to visit the Center regularly, and that you will support the efforts of this outstanding team that is creating opportunities to bring art into the lives of everyone in the community.