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Hillsboro's Cultural Arts Plan aims for more inclusive opportunities, more public art.

PMG PHOTO: JANAE EASLON - Members of the arts community in Hillsboro gathered to celebrate the Hillsboro Cultural Arts Plan for the city. Over the past two years, the Hillsboro Arts and Culture Council developed the Hillsboro Cultural Arts Plan to address the creative community's growth and development as the city grows.

The council is responsible for professional developmental workshops and grants for arts organizations, among other opportunities for Hillsboro's art scene to grow. It recently started a new Creative Impact Workshop Series in partnership with the city of Beaverton Arts Program and Tualatin Valley Creates.

While the plan has been released for some time — it was officially adopted by the Hillsboro City Council last October — members of the arts community gathered to toast its creation earlier this month.

Michele McCall-Wallace, cultural arts program manager for the Arts and Culture Council, became involved in the plan's process as it was in the developmental stages.

"We are specifically looking at how can we move more arts programming out into the community, how do we build and sustain partnerships," McCall-Wallace said. "Now, we are basically facing the to-do part of the plan."

The five initiatives within the plan and focus areas include: increasing awareness; diversity, equity and inclusion; creative expression; interweave art; and economic strength in the creative sector.

Along with being one of the fastest-growing communities in the state, Hillsboro is also one of Oregon's most diverse cities, something that the arts action plan reflects. The plan emphasizes the need for "diversity, equity and inclusion in arts and culture," as well as outreach to artists with disabilities, community members who don't speak fluent English, and other "underserved" groups.

The plan also calls for more public art in Hillsboro.

The city has worked in recent years to develop a visually distinctive identity, displaying its logo on street markers and other signage throughout Hillsboro. But compared to nearby Portland, and even other suburbs like Tigard and Gresham, it doesn't have a lot of iconic public art.

One of Hillsboro's most famous installations, the Chief Kno-Tah statue in Shute Park, was badly damaged during a 2017 windstorm and was ultimately deemed a public safety risk, prompting its removal.

The arts action plan suggests creating a "landmark" piece of public art that would be a local attraction, among other public art projects.

Hillsboro's creative scene has manifested in other ways, including through the performing arts. McCall-Wallace said grassroots advocacy for arts programming led to the construction of the Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center in downtown Hillsboro, as well as the formation of the Arts and Culture Council.

Today, Hillsboro's arts action plan is seen as a companion plan to Hillsboro's 2035 Community Plan, which envisions what the city will look like over the next 17 years.

"I know we have people who are excited to be involved," McCall-Wallace said. "The Arts Council is a community board and that group of people represent arts organizations. They are excited to be driving this work and being behind it. This is why we are looking for ways to utilize our existing programs and expand upon them, so we are providing more opportunities in the community and using programs to do more advocacy and promotion, and broadening the understanding of arts and culture and opening up accessibility to creative experiences."

One of the highlights of the plan is identifying the need on understanding how to incorporate inclusion work in organizations. As a result, a workshop was held on how to engage diverse audiences, as an example, McCall-Wallace said.

Another development was a venue grant was established this year for organizations to be able to use The Walters to bring accessibility to places that may not be able to access the space.

Moving forward, the council wants to give presentations to community organizations about the plan in depth and receive more feedback, McCall-Wallace said.

"We want to hear more," she said. "This shouldn't be the end. ... It is not a one-time thing."

To read the plan, visit hillsborooregon.gov/Home/Components/News/News/9153/1110 or pick up a physical copy at The Walters, located at 527 E. Main St.



By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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