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

Performing and Visual Arts

Ashland residents are engaged, highly-educated and innovative.

Historically, we embrace culture and education with Ashland being the home of Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Living in Ashland is all about embracing the culture and expanding horizons.  People visit and move to Ashland from all over the world coming from many different paths bringing their rich cultural experiences with them to share. Our personal creativity and expression drives our pursuits and our passions and opens up the world beyond the borders of the community.  

In May 2017, Ashland officially joined 161 other cities around the world, as an International City of Peace initiated by the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission. The International Peace Flame on the SOU Campus sponsored by the Peace Commission was unveiled in September 2018.  

Opportunities abound for making donations of time, financial resources and personal attendance at numerous cultural offerings supporting and enhancing many organizations.  Music, theatre, dance and visual arts all have occasions for involvement and participation. 
 
Explore your own creative expression by taking a class in photography, ceramics or fiber arts, join one of the many singing groups located in Ashland and southern Oregon or try a new musical instrument.  Develop a long-held dream, make new friends and expand your world.

Theatre

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.”

OSF 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. 

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 of approximately $40 million, OSF presents more than 800 performances annually with attendance of over 350,000. For tickets visit: osfashland.org. For more information on equity and inclusion please contact, Audience Development at culturalconnections@osfashland.org.

The Green Show is the only venue in which they offer art free of charge to the public. 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.

Dance + Collective brings world-class dance performance and training to Southern Oregon.  dancepluscollective.org

Music

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. Brittfest.org 

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

Chamber Music Concerts (CMC) brings world-class chamber musicians in thrilling performances to the Rogue Valley. Founded in 1984, CMC presents twelve concerts from October through April 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. This season includes prestigious performers such as the Elias String Quartet, Tenebrae, and Brooklyn Rider with Martin Hayes, Irish fiddle. 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). 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.

RV Symphony

The Rogue Valley Symphony, led by conductor and music director Martin Majkut, is the only professional orchestra in Southern Oregon. We offer a full subscription season of concerts.  Founded in 1967, the Symphony celebrates its 52nd year beginning in September of 2019.  The Symphony will perform a six-concert Masterworks Series between September and May in the three major cities of Ashland, Medford, and Grants Pass.  The season includes world renowned soloists playing both world premieres and beloved works of the major composers.  We invite you to take us for a test drive.  If you are new to the Rogue Valley or considering make a move and have never experienced one of our concerts, call us today and we would love for you to be our guests.   For more information, visit rvsymphony.org.  Take a look at our season.  We’d love to provide you one more reason to fall in love with the Rogue Valley.  Season and single tickets are available at 541-708-6400.  #myroguevalley

Film

AIFF
The Ashland Independent Film Festival (AIFF) is five days of the highest quality of independent film, enthusiastic audiences, and passionate filmmakers. Now entering its 19th 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: Savor the Rogue®, After Lounges, and Awards Celebration. Special guests have included Chris Cooper, Lynn Shelton, 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 provides year-round Best of the Fests screenings throughout the Rogue Valley and partners with Coming Attractions Theatres to present Varsity World Film Week each fall. This week-long celebration of international film offers a compelling and illuminating representation of world cinema, and often includes related live events. For more information AIFF please visit ashlandfilm.org.

Visual Arts

“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.”

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 of Art 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. 

Public Art

Public art has been supported by the City and citizens of Ashland for many decades with installations of sculpture, fountains, mosaics and murals throughout the community underscoring our community values of creative expression and innovation.  Public art welcomes individuals to our community creating memorable spaces that are accessible, meaningful and inspiring. Come into the Chamber office to pick up a copy of our Public Art Map and Story Map Guide. 
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