Sherwood Center for the Arts offers one-of-a-kind programs, space
If you have a flair for the creative, you have a home at the Sherwood Center for the Arts, nestled in the city's Old Town District.
Overseeing the impressive facility, located at 22689 S.W. Pine St., is Chanda Hall, who is center manager. Hall loves all things art. It's a fascination she developed as a youngster in Newberg.
"My parents were subscribers to the community concert series that came to George Fox (University). I grew up going to those," Hall said. "I grew up doing plays, grew up attending every arts program, at parks and rec, that I could. I knew from a young age I wanted to do arts administration."
Hall later attended Gustavus Adolphus College, a small liberal arts school in Minnesota, to study arts administration, music and theater.
Oddly enough, Hall said, "There's quite a lively little alumni network of Gustavus people in the Portland metro area."
"I did some internships in New York working with the Young People's Dance Series and City Center," Hall recalled. "I took all that knowledge and then moved to Portland and worked for Oregon Ballet Theatre for a long time, Northwest Children's Theater, Oregon Children's Theatre, then started my own theater company in Portland, called Staged!"
With an eye toward Sherwood, Hall recalled, "I was looking for a shift and looking for a really friendly community to plug into, because I have two daughters. When this (Sherwood Center for the Arts) job opened up, it just seemed like a really great fit."
Hall enjoys the producing aspect of the arts. She likes to think of the Sherwood Center for the Arts as a three-legged stool.
"A big leg is running our own arts education program," she said. "We have a ton of fabulous teaching artists who we've brought on board, who are good at doing their art professionally. They are also good at teaching."
Arts education takes many forms, including visual arts, ceramics, painting and acting. Classes are for all ages.
"We have adults who come and do acrylic painting or ceramics," Hall said. "Alcohol ink is enjoying new popularity."
Another aspect of arts education in Sherwood is learning about Broadway theater.
"One thing that I implemented last year, which draws on my background in musical theater, is Broadway Master Classes," Hall said. "We bring out two people, who are from New York, and who are on Broadway or who have been on Broadway."
Hall added, "This year we have Jeremy Morse, who is currently on tour with 'Frozen.' He was on Broadway with 'Waitress.'"
Morse's class is scheduled for March 9.
"The class is focused on acting the song," Hall explained. "How to interpret a musical theatre piece for an audition."
Another Master Class will be held April 21 by Portlander Laura Haney, who was a former Broadway dancer. She will be presenting Bob Fosse-style choreography.
"These (Master Classes) fill up every year," Hall said.
The second leg of the stool at the Sherwood Center for the Arts, according to Hall, are the events.
"We have this whole Family Matinee Series that kicked off January 11," Hall said. "We're bringing in different live acts representing different cultures. It's only $5 a ticket. It's so accessible for families."
These matinee programs will feature the Murray Irish Dancers, Portland Taiko Drumming, Anjali School of Dance (classical Indian dance) and Circus Luminescence.
A concert geared more for adults features Concert Pianist Darin Niebuhr. "Darin is so great," Hall said. "He does a really engaging program called 'Pianoscapes.'"
This performance is Feb. 9.
"We're partnering with Science on Tap which is a hugely popular event that sells out in Portland and Vancouver every year," Hall said. "They're coming here for the first time. They talk about 'Music & the Aging Brain.' They are really fun chats. People grab a drink and grab some nice pizza. Then they sit and experience this cool program."
A few other aspects of community programming include an open mic program and Art Walk, which happens four times every year and attracts hundreds of people downtown.
The third leg of the center's three-legged stool is rentals.
"We have over 30 groups who come in and rent for performances every year," Hall said, noting dance studios, dance troupes and theater groups are among those renting space.
"There are a lot of arts groups that are scrambling to find rentable space in the metro area," she said. "We are really filling a need there. It's a theater (auditorium) space, but you can also retract all of the chairs and it becomes an event space. Super-rare."
Reflecting on her day-to-day activities at the center, Hall said, "The best feeling in the world is to see this building busy and engaging. I'm excited to see this district grow. There a lot of possibilities here."
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