David Huff Reaches Over Challenges to Create Access
by magdalen o’reilly
I sat down with David Huff, the new director of the Corvallis Arts Center recently. Originally from Oakland, California; Huff was formerly the curator for Pro Arts, another community based art organization in the Bay Area. He was first attracted to the job here in Corvallis when he saw a photograph of the Arts Center with artists lined up outside to hang their work. “Any organization that can have 200 people lined up outside just to hang their artwork is well supported by their community.” he said in the interview. Huff is excited about being the new director and believes that community funded programs like The Arts Center are an extremely important tool for society. “Organizations like the Arts Center help envision and enact social change where it’s needed,” he said.
Because The Arts Center is funded primarily through a combination of grants, donations and class fees they are free from many commercial restraints. They don’t have to worry about what’s going to sell, so they can focus on really representing the artists without financial pressure. The Arts Center is a hub for local artists to exhibit their artwork, but they do far more for the community than just gallery shows.
The Arts Center has a partnership with Good Samaritan Health Services called “ArtsCare” that puts artists into hospitals and hospice care facilities to work with patients; providing company and artistic outlet. David Huff expressed a strong passion for giving back to the community, and most of all making the art world accessible to everyone, not just the “art crowd”. As local schools have been forced to cut art programs from the curriculum, The Arts Center has stepped up with after school programs, enacting a kind of safety net for students whose art classes have been cut. “It’s important to bring the arts to the community… an art organization can’t just serve audiences, we have to make them.” Huff also stresses the importance of representing all of Corvallis, and not just the majority.
However the city has unfortunately had to cut The Arts Center’s annual funding from 80 thousand dollars a year to 40 thousand dollars- a whopping 50% budget cut. “We’ve had to cut some of our support staff so we’ll be able to continue our core programs.” he said, but Huff seemed to be staying positive in light of the recent budget constraints.
As for Huff’s plans for The Arts Center in the coming year, he has big plans for 2013. While The Arts Center will be celebrating it’s 50ths year anniversary, the Majestic will be having it’s 100th year- and the Da Vinci Days festival it’s 25th. The three institutions will be coming together for what Huff calls “The Year of Culture”. The Majestic itself is already holding community events curated by Josephine Zaerckovich, an independent curator who is also David Huff’s wife. February 29th is the official launch party for “Maker’s Space” a new alternative arts program that will include events, lectures and workshops for all at the Majestic. The launch party is free and open to the public and will feature a leap year themed art exhibition, as well as live performances by XENAT-RA, Joe Von Appen, and The Red Raven Follies.
On March 2nd The Arts Center will be hosting “Chocolate Fantasy” a fund raiser sponsored by Market of Choice at Reser Stadium, catered by Chocolatiers including Burst’s Chocolates, Francesco’s Gelato and Terminus. All proceeds fund the Arts Center and ArtsCare. There will be an art sale, silent auction, and a live auction featuring celebrity auctioneer Coach Craig Robinson. Local band Orquesta Monte Calvo will be providing live music for the event. Tickets are on sale on the Art Center website.
As for how locals can show their support, David Huff says “Membership is the lifeblood of the Arts Center” Huff says, “and it’s the best way to support what we’re doing.” Huff is a passionate and motivated addition to the Corvallis art community who wants to bring the arts to everyone. Check out http://theartscenter.net/ for more events and news about programs and “The Year of Culture” in the coming months.