OCCA provides update on activities since reopening after COVID-19 restrictions | News

The Coastal Oregon Arts Council provided an update on OCCA activities at a Newport City Council meeting on Monday, May 2. The OCCA operates the city’s performing and visual arts center under contract with the city.

Executive Director Jason Holland took over during the COVID-19 emergency. In the report, he details where the organization was a year ago and where it is now.

Holland says the first challenge in 2021 was getting the Newport Visual Arts Center and Newport Performing Arts Center to reopen as soon as COVID-19 restrictions allow. The OCCA drew on city and county resources, as well as industry best practices from arts centers across the country to understand how to operate while keeping everyone safe.

The Visual Arts Center opened with reduced hours in January 2021, after being closed for approximately six weeks. The Performing Arts Center opened for its first performance in July 2021, with reduced capacity, after being closed for a year.

“For a while, it was interesting to see jury selection and trials taking place inside the Performing Arts Center,” Holland said. “I think that was a perfect example of how we’ve all had to pivot during COVID.”

The statewide impact on the arts and culture sector in Oregon has been significant, with a 32% decline in paid arts positions in 2019 compared to 2021. Earned revenue fell from $118.3 million in 2019 to $27 million in 2021, Holland reported.

After being closed for a year, efforts were made to improve the operational efficiency of the organization. Redundant or obsolete software and services have been eliminated.

“We started collaborating with community partners, which I think is really at the heart of what we do,” Holland said after the organization reopened last summer.

The Performing Arts Center sees more shows. Holland said it was great to see the audience back in the theater.

“The new oven is VAC functional,” Holland said. “It allows a number of classes to occur.”

There will be a children’s play camp for six weeks this summer.

“We have a new artist-in-residence program starting with the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area starting next month, which is the first time we’ve done it,” Holland said.

Over the next 12 months, the OCCA will lead the charge for Lincoln County’s participation in the 6th Annual Arts and Economic Prosperity Study. This is a national study of the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry, as well as event-related spending by patrons.

Sally J. Minick