OSF grant will help develop local Latino theater

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has received a $7,000 state grant to develop Latino theater in Southern Oregon.

OSF project leaders say they hope to use the Arts Build Communities grant to bring in Latino playwrights and theater artists to Ashland to develop biennial projects.

"Right now we're really just seeing what the possibilities are — who to include, what plays to consider, what artists to invite," said Christopher Acebo, OSF associate artistic director.

"I think eventually this could be a way for us to commission writers, and a way for artists to come together and have conversations about the field and how it relates to the Latino theater community and Latino theater artist."

OSF was among 23 arts organizations from across the state to receive grants Wednesday from the Oregon Arts Commission aimed at enhancing opportunities to experience the arts in underserved communities.

"One of the critical elements is developing partnerships with others in the community that are meaningful," said Brian Wagner, community development coordinator for OAC. "Often these projects end up creating community and partnerships that last long beyond the project itself."

An advisory committee of artists and community leaders will be formed to kick off the project during fall 2013, Acebo said.

OSF will partner with Olga Sanchez, artistic director for Portland-based Miracle Theater Group, on the project.

Many of Miracle's outreach efforts serve the underprivileged, at-risk youth and underserved communities and individuals throughout the Northwest, according to its website.

Acebo said his aim is for the OSF advisory committee to include leaders from Southern Oregon's Latino community.

"Our goal is to enhance accessibility ... give opportunities to a wider range of artists," Acebo said. "It's not just playwrights. We're talking about directors, designers, actors ... the entire community."

Acebo said the project has the potential to act as the umbrella for a growing Latino theater community in Southern Oregon.

"We're thrilled with the fact that OAC is willing to support this project, especially in its pilot year, when it is really just gathering momentum," said Deborah Small, OSF's director of institutional giving. "There is wonderful energy around it within the company."

The arts commission handed out $114,000 worth of Arts Build Communities grants this year, Wagner said, selecting from 53 applicants.

The program is mostly funded through a partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, he said, and supports a variety of art disciplines.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-499-1470 or email swheeler@dailytidings.com.

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