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Oregon’s Local Arts Scene

Oregon is known for its landscape of striking mountain ranges and lush forests, but the state also has a thriving local arts scene. From the Pacific Coast and the Cascade Range in the west to the protected forestlands of the east, Oregonians have created bustling communities that support their local artists.

Western Oregon is great for art festivals. Music lovers will appreciate the multidisciplinary performances all summer long at the Britt Festival in Jacksonville, and theatergoers will want to stop in nearby Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival to see classical and contemporary live performances.

Portland, the state’s largest city, holds its own with its popular artsy neighborhood centered around Alberta Street. The community always has something to offer visiting groups, with weekly arts festivals and larger events filling up the calendar. Groups stopping in the northeast will appreciate the celebration of local artists and culture that can be found in the exhibits of the Tamastslikt Culture Institute and the Josephy Center for the Arts.

Britt Music and Arts Festival

The Britt Music and Arts Festival combines world-class performers with affordable public performances at Britt Park in southwestern Oregon. The festival began as a two-week chamber music festival but has expanded over the years into a summerlong series.

Lineups combine contemporary musicians with orchestral pieces that feature the Britt Orchestra, comprising more than 120 professional musicians from across the country. Concerts in 2016 included performances by the Steve Miller Band, Wild Honey and Pat Benatar. This year’s season also featured a special weekend performance at Crater Lake National Park, as well as a first-time partnership with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival that highlighted “Bard-inspired” pieces by classical composers such as Tchaikovsky and Debussy.

Before each concert there are free talks open to the public that highlight that evening’s selection or performer. Throughout the summer season, the Britt festival also offers workshops and a free midmorning concert series for children.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Founded in 1935, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has brought live theater to Oregon for more than 80 years. Plays are performed in one of three venues, two indoors and an outdoor Elizabethan-style theater.

Each year the festival features 11 shows, among them Shakespearian and classical plays as well as a modern show, giving theatergoers the chance to see as many as nine plays in a single week. Some of the shows being performed this season are “Twelfth Night,” “Great Expectations,” “Roe” and “The Wiz.”

Groups can take part in backstage tours, lectures and classes. At Festival Noons events, visitors attend informal talks with actors and other company members, or watch demonstrations, allowing attendees to get deeper insight into the plays they’ll be seeing later in the day. The season runs annually from late February through early November.