Free ice cream, a performance by a top trumpet quintet and music from Thomas Lauderdale and Hunter Noack are all part of a public event in Salem Monday to push arts and culture.
The gathering at the Elsinore Theatre is a launch party for a new Oregon Arts and Culture Caucus at the Legislature. The prime goal of the legislators: Get more money for Oregon arts.
The organizers want area residents to join in for the free event, which starts at 5:30 p.m. While there is no admission, registration ahead of time is required HERE. Seating is limited.
The program is a mix of speeches and performances.
Lauderdale is the founder of the Portland band Pink Martini, and his partner, Hunter Noack, is a native of Newport who performs outdoors and created the concert series In A Landscape.
And in local talent, the Salem Trumpet Ensemble will perform. The members are student trumpet players Kaden Blake, Nicholas Peterson-Hunt and Nick Telford from West Salem High School, Keegan Arnsmeier from McNary High School and Ian King from Sprague High School. They are directed by Jaimie Hall, band director at Straub Middle School. He was Music Educator of the Year for the Salem-Keizer School District last year.
The ensemble is going to Colorado in March, invited to compete at the National Trumpet Competition.
VIDEO: Salem Trumpet Ensemble
The emcee for the evening will be Jason Graham, the creative laureate of Bend known as MOsley WOtta.
And on the menu: Ice cream from Salt and Straw, the popular Portland shop that promotes its ice cream as “curiously delicious.”
The caucus was assembled by state Rep. Rob Nosse, D-Portland, and includes state Sen. Deb Patterson, a Salem Democrat.
Nosse said the seed for the caucus was planted during the pandemic, when he was approached by those operating arts and culture groups and venues for entertainment.
“They were saying, ‘We’re going out of business. We rely on ticket sales and crowds,’” Nosse said. He said he learned that “Oregon has kind of a unique ecosystem of locally-operated venues and organizations.”
Nosse said he got off a Zoom gathering during the pandemic and thought to himself, “How am I going to help these people?”
The Portland representative said he hadn’t been particularly committed to the arts before, joking that he had been “the best artist in my eighth grade class.” He took up guitar in his 40s.
But a concert in Portland brought home to him the importance of the arts.
He told of being invited to a show of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. At the time, he said, he wasn’t in a good mood, busy and not sure he could justify the time. He went nonetheless.
Nosse listened in awe as a 17-year-old conducted the youth symphony in performing a piece had composed.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” he said.
In the 2021 session of the Legislature, he helped engineer a $50 million budget to provide relief to arts and cultures groups. An effort to match that last year with another $50 million failed.
The need remains, he said.
“They are recovering but not fast enough,” he said of the arts and culture groups. “Ticket sales are not up to pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
But the new caucus is back – and it’s pressing again for funding for the arts. Among the priorities:
•$50 million in recovery funding for arts and culture organizations and grants to be administered by counties and tribal governments through House Bill 2459.
•$200 million in lottery funds invested to generate about $10 million in awards that would go to some of the 1,600 arts and culture nonprofits in Oregon through House Bill 2498.
•$10 million increase in funding for the Oregon Arts Commission.
Nosse said Monday’s event in Salem is a chance for the arts and culture community and its supporters to impress legislators of the interest and need.
“Showing up matters,” he said.
Patterson said she realized how little the state has done to help arts and culture groups in the face of dealing with health, education and other needs.
“We know arts are a way for people to heal,” Patterson said.
She said other states have demonstrated that investing in the arts is a form of economic development. She sees that potential for Salem.
“I’d love to see an expansion of our theater community,” she said. “We have a lot of creative people and we could be doing so much more.”
Contact Editor Les Zaitz by email: [email protected]
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Les Zaitz is editor and CEO of Salem Reporter. He co-founded the news organization in 2018. He has been a journalist in Oregon for nearly 50 years in both daily and community newspapers and digital news services. He is nationally recognized for his commitment to local journalism. He also is editor and publisher of the Malheur Enterprise in Vale, Oregon.