Checking in — With annual report, Newberg Cultural District updates progress, looks to the future

With the recent completion of the forecourt and Sheridan Street remodel, the Newberg Cultural District feels more like a complete entity, as intended when the idea came about in 2010.

“There’s just a sense of this is ours, this is the community’s, we want to be here and we want to use it and we want to make it ours,” said Leah Griffith, NCD chairwoman. “I feel just really good about that.”

Even though it hasn’t been official for a year yet, as part of the intergovernmental agreement the NCD ex­ecutive board presented an annual report to the City Council and the Chehalem Park and Recreation District this week.

“The executive board has been meeting since the end of October (2013). We’ve been working on rules and processes for events, that’s been our focus,” Griffith said.

But the board has completed some other necessary tasks as well, such as launching its website and designating an entity to handle space reservations.

“The cultural center will be the organization who will make reservations for spaces,” Griffith said. “That’s something we decided early on.”

Eventually, there will be an online form for that task, but Griffith said as the group that handles space reservations the most, the choice made sense.

The monthly newsletter also is up and running, although it’s more informational than promotional.

“At this point it isn’t the group that advertises and promotes events, whoever is the sponsor is who promotes it,” she said. “The newsletter is just notice to interested parties that there will be events in the cultural district, neighborhood issues of parking, (etc.).”

A link to the calendar is included in each email, putting the two aspects together.

With most of the basic needs handled, Griffith said there are a few things the NCD hopes to complete moving forward. The first: reducing paperwork.

“We are looking at talking to the City Council and the traffic (safety) commission to designate Howard and Sheridan within the district as festival streets,” she said. “So every time we’re doing an event we don’t have to go around and get signatures of the same people every time.”

Currently, for every event such as Tunes on Tuesday, the farmer’s market and the Camellia Festival, a request has to be submitted and approved by all involved entities, such as the City Council, CPRD, the police department, etc.

“Our request is that we get blanket ap­proval saying, ‘Yes we can close this for any event,” she said. “Then when we close it we email any effected people, they don’t have to do anything about it unless they have a problem with it. This saves everybody, including the city, expense and time.”

With construction finished, Griffith said they can also start on signage and wayfinding, something that’s been in the works for a while.

“We’re coming up with ideas for how to block off the street in a way that’s easy and a way that’s attractive,” she said. “This is an arts area, a cultural area, we even want the street barricades to have a cultural arts look to them.”

This goes hand in hand with designating a name for the forecourt area.

“It’s a center of the cultural district and we haven’t come up with an idea,” Griffith said. “We’ll probably ask the community for suggestions. Something quick and easy so that when you say that you know.”

She said there’s still some more rule alignment to finish, but so far the NCD has been going great.

“It’s been a fun project to be a part of and see that community connection out here and grow from an idea to something that’s really developed into something more,” she said.

For more information about the NCD, visit www.newbergcultural

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