Join the ‘Cultural Arts Conversation’ on Orcas | Artist stakeholders invited to shape vision

  • Fri Jul 20th, 2018 1:30am
  • Life

Submitted by the Orcas Arts Vision Committee.

Over the past 20 years, our beautiful island community has seen a flourish of cultural arts and creativity. The Chamber Music Festival has set the standard of “quality and excellence” and it is precisely this focus of purpose that ensures the Chamber Music Festival is recognized and appreciated, locally and nationally.

Most recently, we have happily experienced the growth of our Film Festival, and The Jazz Festival, as well as the smashing introductions of Woman in the Woods and the Orcas Island Lit Fest this past year. Our visual artists, ceramicists, and performers also engage and delight us year-round and bring pride to our community.

Community and private support Is essential

For example, Orcas Center, built by the hands of our own community, is a primary and essential venue. The OICF & OIEF play an important role, too. Seaview Theatre has stepped up to support productions, and The Grange (Actors Theatre) has proven resilient and crucial, too. Parrish Hall, Community Church and Darvill’s also serve as much needed venues.

Private donors support most of our artistic nonprofits

Donors are an essential component in support of our cultural and creative arts community. Without their generous and continuing financial support, many of the artistic undertakings we all enjoy might not be able to achieve the “quality and excellence” they do now or exist at all. However, in a small community, there are often (and regrettably) conflicts, personality differences, and divergent visions for a healthy arts community. Resources can be scarce, and donor fatigue can happen, too.

An important step for our cultural arts community

To ensure that our island community fosters and maintains a vibrant and sustainable arts community and vision, leaders and stakeholders in the arts have come together to focus on three critical questions:

• What is the vision for our ‘Cultural Arts Community’ over the next 10 – 20 years?

• What resources (people, facilities, financial) will be needed to accomplish that vision?

• What strategies, ideas, concepts, and collaborations can we apply that will allow us to efficiently and effectively move toward that vision?

How will the conversation begin?

Longtime Arts supporters, Joe Cohen and Martha Farish, have engaged Jean Brittingham, a skilled facilitator, to engage our artist stakeholders with a process known as Future Search™. Jean is an accomplished entrepreneur and consults with Amazon and other successful companies and communities, helping them to refine their cultures as they grow. Jean met with a group of islanders on May 25 and has us energized and inspired to continue the conversation with more artist stakeholders.

The process involves a three-day commitment of time for up to 65 members of our cultural arts community (individual artists, nonprofits, producers, etc.). The focus of the workshop is to address (and answer) the three questions above to create an inspiring and sustainable plan for the artistic community on Orcas Island.

Part of the conversation

The three-day Future Search workshop will be held on Oct. 11 (noon to 5 p.m.), Oct. 12 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m., lunch served) and Oct. 13 (8 a.m. to noon). If you would like to participate, please reach out to Sarah Cooper at or one of the volunteers on our organizing committee: Martha Farish, Joe Cohen, Jake Perrine, Donna Laslo, Eliza Morris, Sarah Cooper, Ayn Gailey, Jill Johnson, Paula Treneer. The committee is searching for a maximum of 60 people to participate.

The Cultural Arts Community Conversation is underwritten by a group of donors who are passionately interested and invested in the future success of cultural arts on Orcas.

For more info: