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Festival of Arts needs helpto stay off life support

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The 2013 Wilsonville Festival of Arts was held in Town Center Park, but suffered somewhat from lower than normal attendance. Now organizers are trying to revamp and revitalize the event. Shown here is Wilsonville girl MoNiqueko Johnson and facepainter Desiree Seibl.   There may yet be life in the Wilsonville Festival of Arts.

With a dwindling pool of steady volunteers in recent years, the festival, once one of the city’s premier events of the summer, has lost a bit of luster over time.

The loss three years ago of the popular community parade that once accompanied the daylong artistic splurge was one of the big turning points.

Since then, said Wilsonville Arts and Culture Council President Theonie Gilmore, it has been increasingly difficult to keep the festival alive. The group’s Facebook page, for example, has not been updated since last May, several weeks prior to the last Festival of Arts. A reader post from Dec. 3 wonders whether there will even be a 2014 festival: “Hello, is anyone monitoring this site? Is there going to be a Wilsonville Festival of Arts for 2014?”

But since the turn of the new year things are said to have changed. The council now has a “functional” planning committee, Gilmore said, along with a succession plan for some of the group’s more senior members.

“I have an assistant who will shadow me and take over next year,” said Gilmore, who has been the face of the Wilsonville arts community for well over a decade now.

But given the close call experienced by the Festival of Arts - organizers considered cancelling this year’s event altogether before electing to go forward with planning - more resources are going to be an ongoing need for the foreseeable future.

“Even though we have enough volunteers for a planning committee, we still need more volunteers,” Gilmore said.

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - The Wilsonville Festival of Arts featured a parade in years past. Shown here are Wilsonville Mayor Tim Knapp (left) and Festival organizer Theonie Gilmore (middle) in the 2011 event, which proved to be the last one held. Now, organizers are looking to keep the event itself alive. To help facilitate that process, a series of informational meetings about the Wilsonville Arts and Culture Council, Festival of Arts and other related topics have been scheduled. The first gathering will be at 1 p.m. Monday at ALT Creative, Studio, 30775 SW Boones Ferry Road. There, Gilmore and other council members will talk about the importance of the Festival of Arts and other local cultural mainstays.

The second meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. March 10, also at ALT Creative Studio. The public is welcome to attend and more information can be found at the council’s website, wilsonvillearts.org.

Founded in 1999, the Wilsonville Festival of Arts has always been sponsored by the Wilsonville Arts and Culture Council and still is well funded, Gilmore said. But the loss of key organizers has hindered the group’s ability to properly staff and run the festival.

However, with the addition of some new faces comes new hopes. Ideas to liven up the event were brainstormed and include a possible new art contest for Wilsonville residents of all ages. In the past, the displays have been relatively static - with spectators meant to view and admire.

A new contest open to all comers, however, would bring a new and interactive perspective to the proceedings. Monetary prizes, Gilmore added, would be available for juried art work.

by: SPOKESMAN FILE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Everyone from local Boy Scouts to bagpipe bands used to take part in the Wilsonville Festival of Arts community parade that ended in 2011. Businesses or individuals also can sponsor the festival.

“They would have the satisfaction of helping the arts in Wilsonville,” she said.

If you have leadership or organizational skills, a passion for the arts or a desire to see the festival continue, contact Gilmore at 503-638-6933 or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For further information or a sponsor packet, visit wilsonvillearts.org.



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