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Home / Local / Living Local / Cultural / Performing and Visual Arts

Performing and Visual Arts

Ashland’s values are showcased by the community’s commitment to creative pursuits.  By attending performances, volunteering their time and philanthropically giving to support theater and the arts, Ashland’s culture strengthens. Ashland’s visitor base of over 350,000 is drawn to the cultural, culinary and outdoor experiences Ashland offers. 

Home to the oldest Elizabethan theatre, Ashland’s long cultural history is built upon natural beauty, theatre, education and wellness. Most widely known for the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, approximately a quarter of Ashland’s visitors attend plays. With 365 days of theatre, in addition to year-round enjoyment of galleries, museums, film, music and shopping, Ashland’s cultural amenities continue to thrive from its historical roots of creativity and a community founded on innovation that stays true to its values.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival 

Founded in 1935, the Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) is among the oldest and largest professional non-profit theatres in the nation. For over eight decades, they have fueled an economy based on creativity, inspiring individuals and businesses who are drawn to a culture based on innovation.  

OSF underscores their economic and cultural leadership through their vision statement: “OSF will balance its roles as a major arts organization, national leader and preeminent resource for the theater field, with being nimbly responsive to challenges and opportunities, both artistic and economic. Anchored by an inspired company creating exceptional art, we will be guided by thoughtful resource stewardship and a deep commitment to education and audience engagement.”

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is among the leaders of the American Theatre in diversifying the acting company as well as the directors and designers. OSF invites and welcomes everyone. They believe the inclusion of diverse people, ideas, cultures and traditions enriches both our insights into the work they present on stage and their relationships with each other. They are committed to diversity in all areas of their work and in their audiences. 

OSF practices non-traditional and multi-cultural casting. The Festival has maintained a commitment to include plays in the season that are culturally diverse. This commitment to diversity not only greatly enhances the visitor experience, but adds to the quality of life for Ashland residents. Each year OSF presents a nine-month season of 11 plays in three theatres plus numerous ancillary activities and undertakes an extensive theatre education program. Operating on a budget exceeding $37 million, OSF presents more than 780 performances annually with attendance of approximately 400,000. For tickets visit:

For more information on equity and inclusion please contact, Audience Development at

The Green Show is the only venue in which they offer art free of charge to the public. Beginning in 2008, the Green Show programming is an ever-rotating bill of fare, representing a deliberately eclectic combination of local and out-of-town, professional and community-based, performance groups and individuals.

Theatre and Dance

The cornerstone of Ashland’s cultural history, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has paved the way for other theatre companies to grow and succeed. Ashland New Plays Festival, Oregon Cabaret Theatre, Ashland Contemporary Theatre, Livia Genise Productions, and Camelot Theatre, located in nearby Talent, collectively offer a vibrant community theatre for visitors and locals.  SOU’s Oregon Center for the Arts present award-winning drama, comedy, and musicals in the 300-seat Center Stage Theatre and the 100-seat Center Square Theatre located on the Southern Oregon University campus in Ashland. In Medford, the Craterian Theatre at the Collier Center for the Performing Arts hosts music, theatre and dance from around the world year-round and the Holly Theatre is currently undergoing a complete restoration and should add another exciting venue to southern Oregon in 2018.

Dancing People Company (DPC) is Ashland, Oregon’s cherished dance company. It is the only professional full-time modern dance group in all of Southern Oregon.  Founded in 1994 by Founding Artistic Director and choreographer Robin Stiehm, Dancing People Company is dedicated to presenting high quality, innovative modern dance that appeals to a wide variety of audiences. For more info visit


Ashland’s music scene showcases local talent and welcomes nationally recognized artists. Whether it’s bluegrass, opera, reggae, or an orchestra, you can enjoy it in Ashland.  Historical Ashland roots show that SOU was instrumental in the creation of the nearby Britt Festival.  

John Trudeau, an assistant professor of music at Portland State College, visited Ashland and Jacksonville in the summer of 1963 and conceived the idea of presenting classical music concerts on a hill-side in Jacksonville’s Britt Gardens.  The Music Department hastened to assist, and the College employed Trudeau for the following eight summers to develop Britt Festivals. Today, Britt presents dozens of summer concerts, featuring world-class artists in classical music, jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, world, pop and country music. 

Music venues in Ashland include many restaurants and bars, Live at the Armory, the Butler Bandshell where the Ashland City Band plays throughout the summer and the Southern Oregon University Music Recital Hall where the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, Siskiyou Singers and the Chamber Music Concerts are held. Camelot Theatre in Talent is often rented out for the Brava! Opera Theater and James M. Collier Young Artist Program.

Chamber Music Concerts (CMC) brings world-class chamber musicians in thrilling performances to the Rogue Valley. Founded in 1984, CMC presents twelve concerts from September through May in the Music Recital Hall at Southern Oregon University. The series features only the most distinguished chamber music performers in the world — household names and up-and-coming, younger groups — and has included such prestigious performers as the Emerson and Tokyo String Quartets; the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet; pianists Menahem Pressler, Angela Hewitt and Jon Nakamatsu; the American Brass Quintet; and the Tallis Scholars. In order to help those that may find ticket prices a barrier, CMC provides discounted tickets to full-time students and individuals with an Oregon Trail Card (through the SNAP food-stamp program), and recently added a special price for ages 19-35. CMC presents engaging outreach programs by the artists to area schools, SOU, the youth orchestra, retirement communities, and social clubs, and all outreach events are free and open to the public.

The Rogue Valley Symphony, led by conductor and music director Martin Majkut, is the only professional orchestra in Southern Oregon offering a full subscription season of concerts.  

Founded in 1967, the Symphony celebrates its 50th Anniversary during the 2017-2018 season.

The Symphony will perform a six-concert Masterworks Series between September and May in the three major cities of Ashland, Medford, and Grants Pass.  Ashland performances are typically on Friday evening.  Each Masterworks concert features a world-renowned soloist performing with the orchestra.  The 50th Anniversary Season will feature five commissioned works by living composers in addition to beloved classics.  Soloists during the 2017-18 season will include world-renowned pianist Peter Serkin, violinist Bella Hristova, pianist Gabriela Martinez, electric violinist Tracy Silverman, and four vocal soloists in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers and the Symphony.

The Symphony also will perform a Holiday Series of concerts in early December and a family Discovery Concert in May. Now in his 8th season as Music Director, Martin Majkut has won the hearts of Rogue Valley audiences for his engaging and adventuresome programming, his entertaining pre-concert lectures, and the tremendous artistic growth of the orchestra during his tenure.  The Symphony’s Ashland performances, held in the Recital Hall of the music building at Southern Oregon University, always sell out so the public is encouraged to order tickets early.  The Symphony also has a multi-faceted education and community engagement program that sends musicians and small ensembles into area schools to teach music, coach bands and orchestras, and give performances in classrooms.  The Symphony makes its concerts accessible by providing discounted tickets to students and individuals with an Oregon Trail Card.  Students and accompanying adults are able to attend Grants Pass performances through a free student voucher program, “Connecting with the Classics.”  For more information, visit


The Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) is five days of the highest quality of independent film, enthusiastic audiences and passionate filmmakers. AIFF was recently named one of the “Top 25 Coolest Festivals in the World” by MovieMaker Magazine. Now entering its 17th year, more than 7,000 film lovers gather each spring to watch more than 100 independent documentary, narrative, and short films. Filmmakers engage with audiences after screenings and at festival events such as the Opening Night Bash and Awards Celebration. Special guests have included James Ivory, Dolores Huerta, Ty Burrell, Albert Maysles, Barbara Kopple, Morgan Spurlock, Helen Hunt, Julie Taymor, and Olympian Greg Louganis. Film festival membership passes are available year round and individual tickets go on sale in mid-March. Members receive early access to tickets and films.

Beyond the five-day festival, AIFF partners with Coming Attractions Theatres to present Varsity World Film Week each fall.  This weeklong celebration of international film offers a compelling and illuminating representation of world cinema, and often includes related live events. For more information on the film festival and Varsity World Film Week, visit

MovieMaker Magazine has honored Ashland, Oregon four years in a row as one of the top towns to Live and Work as a Moviemaker based on a number of factors including the frequency and quality of filmmaking, the established infrastructure for the industry, community support for filmmaking, and overall arts scene, cost of living and quality of life. Ashland has successfully created a top environment and economic platform for film and video production and media education. Beyond the actual filming of movies, documentaries and video production, the potential for an active economy in post-production also exists and is beginning to thrive in Ashland.  At the heart of this creative pursuit is SoFaM (Southern Oregon Film and Media), a professional trade and networking association that serves as the primary liaison for film and media activity in Southern Oregon. SoFaM supports, expands and promotes the production, education and economic impact of film and media. (

Ashland has been the site location for films such as Calvin Marshall and in 2013, the filming of major motion picture, Wild, starring Academy Award Winner, Reese Witherspoon. Moviemaker Magazine’s designations underscore Ashland’s creative pursuits as ‘friendly to a filmmaker’s eye as well as budget, where incredible locations, experienced crews, strong film incentives and no state sales tax have attracted industry professionals from across the world.’ With Ashland’s broadband capacity, moviemakers are able to conduct modern post production here while enjoying the quality of life. Documentarians and students develop their technical skills at the EMDA (Emerging Media and Digital Arts) program at SOU or at DMC (Digital Media Center and Rogue Valley Television).  

For the filmgoer, year-round locations include, Ashland’s Varsity Theatre, that houses five wall-to-wall screens. Ashland Street Cinema, located in the Ashland Shopping Center, features Dolby Digital Surround Sound, six wall-to-wall screens and first-run films.

Fine Arts

Ashland’s thriving artist community welcomes you with art galleries, shops and museums offering a remarkably diverse range of fine arts and crafts. You can find representational as well as contemporary paintings and fine art prints, sculpture, hand-blown glass, Native American art, pottery and ceramics, jewelry and fine hand-crafted furniture. All within walking distance, galleries and museums can be found from the Historic Railroad District to Southern Oregon University’s campus.  Explore interactive art exhibits and activities for everyone in your family.  

Enjoy First Friday Art Walk each month sponsored by the Ashland Gallery Association (AGA). Each April AGA puts on A Taste of Ashland with 17 participating galleries that pair up with a winery and restaurant, merging Ashland’s creative pursuits and culinary delights. Lithia Artisan’s Market each weekend from March through November, showcases handcrafted art and more. 

At the Schneider Museum on the Southern Oregon University campus, visitors can see major exhibits from around the country with bimonthly exhibits focusing on contemporary visual arts. Originated in 2009, the Ashland Art Center is a visual arts organization based in Ashland that serves Southern Oregon citizens with art education, art exhibitions and art services. The center’s focus is on artist support, arts education and artistic collaboration. “Ashland’s quality of life,” writes John Villani, in his book, 100 Best Small Art Towns In America, “is the stuff that dreams are made of.”

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