It’s back to the drawing board once again for Columbia Center for the Arts in downtown Hood River, now entering its 18th year of operations. The arts center board of directors and a small group of community members are working to reinvent the organization and chart a path forward for full recovery after the pandemic-related shutdowns dealt a severe blow to the organization. Now operating with only one part-time staff member, down from a pre-pandemic staff of four full time people, the arts center is in dire need of rebuilding its volunteer rosters and is inviting new leadership to come forward to help plan the future of the non-profit community center.
“This is the perfect opportunity for a new beginning,” said Barbara Briggs, lead consultant for the Center’s strategic business planning project, now underway. “The name, Columbia Center for the Arts, speaks volumes. As a community arts center, it must focus on what the community wants and needs.” The effort to develop a new, community-driven business and operating plan for the Center is funded by grants from Union Pacific Railroad and the Oregon Cultural Trust.
The building, which houses a wonderful gallery, well equipped black box theatre and an open classroom space is owned outright by CCA, which launched a successful capital campaign in 2004. “Determining how to breathe life back into those spaces is the top priority,” said Genevieve Scholl, CCA board co-chair. “To find that out, we are asking a lot of questions of a lot of people about what they would like to see happening in the Arts Center.”
The first step involves engaging the community in discussions around how the arts center can best support arts experiences and expression. Because the center is a great facility asset in the community, outreach to groups in the gorge who may have ideas about use of the building will be a critical part of the public input process. Gaining input from the general public will be achieved through public input roundtable sessions, online survey option and other outreach activities.
More information about the process will be shared in coming weeks. To keep informed, enter your information on their New Beginnings webpage to receive intermittent email updates soon. Also , make sure to also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.