Board of directors chooses Sean Andries as the cultural center's new executive director

After nearly a year without a permanent leader, the Chehalem Cultural Center has a new executive director.

Sean Andries was named to the position in early October by the CCC board of directors. He takes over for interim director Jim Halliday.GARY ALLEN - Sean Andries spent his first dull day as executive director of the Chehalem Cultural Center on Monday.

"The committee, board and staff were immediately impressed not only with Sean's professional background, but with his energy and heart for making arts accessible to all," board president Mark Terry said in a prepared statement. "We are excited to have him join the team and bring his passion to our mission."

Andries (pronounced An-Dreez) said his appreciation matched that of the board: "I am simply overjoyed to join this community as the director of an organization that plays such a vibrant role in the lives of so many throughout our region."

The 34-year-old Rogue Valley native's last post was as operations manager at Portland Center Stage. Heavily involved in the state's nonprofit arts scene, Andries has worked as an artist, educator, producer and administrator for the Portland Ballet, Oregon Children's Theatre, Circus Project and Imago Theatre.

"My love for the arts and their place in our lives has always driven me to have a strong sense of community," he said. "When arts support the community, community supports the arts."

Andries' responsibilities will be many and myriad, but his main charge will be to work with the board and staff on outreach and to strengthen the cultural center's "mission to inspire and enrich lives by connecting community and culture," according to the release.

He will also lead the search for a new development director, work with the board on the organization's capital campaign and endeavor to "increase the CCC's footprint in the community by bringing new and exciting opportunities to engage with art and culture to Yamhill County," the release said.

"The bar has been set very high at the Center and I am incredibly indebted to those who preceded me for the solid foundation they have laid," Andries said. "Throughout its life the Center has been a growing enterprise and continuing that growth is central to my role. The Center and I share grand ambitions to create a larger imprint for the performing arts in Yamhill County."

He continued that the CCC is about 50 percent renovated and "seeing that project through to completion will be an absolute focus for me. There is a beautiful old theatre upstairs just waiting to be built and every time I walk through it I imagine all the life that will fill its stage."

"We are so delighted to have someone of Sean's caliber take the helm here at CCC," Halliday said. "With his creativity, energy and vision, the center's future looks very bright indeed."

Andries has been involved in the arts for pretty much his entire life.

"I have always loved participating in the artistic process through many expressions," he added, "but my career has primarily been as a theatre artist. I think what appeals to me the most about working in the theatre is that it is a point of confluence for a number of art forms. A theatre production takes costumes, lights, sets, performers, writers and on and on. The ability to work alongside so many different kinds of artists, and to wear so many hats, has always appealed to me."

After earning a degree in theater arts and arts administration from the University of Oregon, Andries spent time working on-stage and off for the Actors Theatre of Louisville (Kentucky), where he performed in several productions and lent a hand with a local theatrical festival. His path then veered toward New York City, where he worked for one of his idols, Richard Foreman, at the legendary Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, but life in the Big Apple didn't suit him.

"NYC just wasn't for me and this Oregon boy was very happy to return to the west coast," he said.

Over the past decade since his return to Oregon, Andries has produced, written and performed in dozens of plays and toured an original show around the country. He added a stint at the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre in rural California as well.

"It was at Dell'Arte that I really came to understand the connection between the arts and their community and where I grew to love the way they play together," he said.

Dell'Arte, located on California's Lost Coast, focuses on the theory of "theatre in place," the belief that art should reflect its surroundings and connect deeply with its audience, he said.

The change from being an actor to an administrator might take some getting used to, Andies said, but it's one he welcomes.

"As my career has grown my desire to be the one standing on stage or making the art has taken a back seat to my growing desire to make space for artists to present their work," he said. "I have always enjoyed the more administrative side of the arts and know a lot of artists who don't share that passion. This position at the CCC gives me an incredible platform to set the stage for many, many artists of all disciplines to reach their audiences."

Andries concluded with what excites him about the CCC and his role in its growth.

"The future is incredibly bright for the CCC," he said. "There is a lot of goodwill in the community toward the Center and a lot of momentum behind the work that is going on there now. I am excited to see the center continue to grow and to provide more and more opportunities for the communities of Newberg and Yamhill County to engage with the arts in fresh new ways."

Andries replaces Rob Dailey, who left in December 2016 to take over as director of Gales Creek Camp, a program northwest of Forest Grove that provides a summer camp for young people with Type 1 diabetes.

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