Women Printers, 18th century engraving

A Periodic Broadside
for Arts and Culture Workers
June 2004. Vol. 8, No. 4.
Institute for Community Arts Studies
Arts & Administration Program, University of Oregon                  ISSN 1541-938X

In This Issue of CultureWork

Assessing Arts and Cultural Programming in Oregon's Recreation Organizations
Gaylene Carpenter
This article explores the current and future role of the arts and culture in recreation settings. Selected members of the Oregon Recreation and Park Association were invited to participate in a study designed to identify the number and types of arts and cultural programs offered during the summer of 2003. This article provides an overview of the types of programming offered by these organizations and additional findings from that study.

Outcome-based Evaluation: Practical and Theoretical Applications
Robert Voelker-Morris
Evaluation has become one of the most important issues among arts organizations and funders in recent years. This article discusses outcome-based evaluation and the passing of the Government Performance and Results Act in 1993. Included are the components to creating a successful outcome based evaluation.

Assessing Arts and Cultural Programming in Oregon’s Recreation Organizations

Gaylene Carpenter

In the last few years, and in spite of challenging economic times, Oregon is experiencing growth in the number and type of citizen-opportunities to participate in arts and cultural programs. An increasing number of nonprofit and for profit organizations produce a wide variety of cultural and art experiences including everything from dance to theatre, visual to performing arts, and culinary to literary arts. The National Endowment for the Arts (1997) notes that the increased number of arts organizations contributes to the increasing number of arts participants. This growth translates into arts opportunities for Oregon's citizens.

In addition to providing experiences for people, arts and cultural programs are good for the economy. High profile arts advocates like Richard Florida (2002), author of Rise of the Creative Class, support the value of providing arts and cultural opportunities for improving peoples’ lives and livelihoods. Florida believes that the arts attract educated workers, and the companies that seek to hire them with the result being positive economic benefits. Recently, the president of the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, in purporting the importance of the arts to Oregon’s quality of life and economic health, did so by citing Oregon Arts Commission figures showing that there are over 440 nonprofit arts organizations in the state (Hauser, 2004).

Participation on the Rise
McCarthy and Jinnett (2001) see arts participation-building efforts resulting from restructured efforts by small nonprofit and community-based arts organizations, and large nonprofit and commercial arts institutions. This blend of nonprofit and for profit can be seen in these diverse Oregon examples of arts participation:

  • A steady crowd of art lovers gather monthly for First Thursday, Portland’s monthly celebration of gallery openings. Hundreds of others do the same in other cities around the state.
  • Oregon is home to a number of highly regarded summertime visual art fairs and cultural festivals in several cities; a wide variety of concerts and music festivals that draw thousands of listeners to open spaces and riverbanks; live theatre from Shakespeare to children’s; and clubbing from Libbie’s in Milwaukee to the Vet’s Club in Eugene.
  • BJ’s Quilt Basket, a retail store in Bend that caters to quilters purchasing needs, also conducts quilt-making classes on Saturday mornings that regularly attract over 200 participants.
  • Woodcraft stores, through their Woodworkers Clubs, operate a nation-wide network of do-it-yourself, fully equipped woodworking shops. Stores in Tigard and Eugene offer many arts opportunities to their clientele.
  • Oregon Tourism agencies, such as the Portland Area Visitor’s Association, promote the area’s arts and cultural experiences to visitors. Regional bureaus collaborate to create programs like culturalcascades.com that links Oregon cultural amenities from Eugene to Vancouver, B.C.

Adding to this mix are offerings planned and implemented in the public sector. Recreation professionals have long been aware that the social and psychological benefits derived from recreation participation include those that are associated with arts participation. As public organizations, part of their mission is the provision of recreation opportunity for all citizens in their service areas (e.g.s., cities, special districts or regions).

Since the extent to which Oregon recreation organizations were providing arts and cultural programs was not clear, a project was undertaken to find out. Selected members of the Oregon Recreation and Park Association (ORPA) were invited to participate in a study designed to identify the number and types of arts and cultural programs taking place throughout the state. The purpose of this study was to identify the number and type of arts and cultural programs being offered during the summer of 2003. What follows is an overview of the program offerings in those recreation and parks agencies that participated in this study.

Collecting the Information
Those members of ORPA who were in the Section for Programming Interests, (SPRINT), received an email invitation to send copies of their summer 2003 program brochures for analysis as part of a study at the University of Oregon Arts & Administration Program. The June 2003 invitation was sent to approximately 55 different organizations and agencies from throughout Oregon. Twenty-two organizations responded and represented twelve cities; six districts; two regions; and two classified as “other” (i.e., a senior citizen center and an athletic center). Program brochures were reviewed following procedures that adhere to content analysis practices (Henderson, 1991). The content of the brochures were reviewed first to determine appropriate categories for visual arts, performing arts, and cultural programs and then reviewed for numbers, types, and groups served by organizational type.

What We Found
Findings indicated a wide range and number of arts and cultural programs were being offered during the summer of 2003. In general, most organizations provided arts opportunities for both youth and adults throughout the summer months. By far, most (N = 243) offerings were visual arts programs (i.e., arts and craft experiences), followed by various types of performing arts programs (i.e., dance, movement, music, and theatre experiences). (See Table 1.)

Table 1.

Arts & Crafts
Dance & Movement

In addition to visual and performing arts programs, special events that included arts and cultural experiences were offered in nine cities, five districts, and both regional organizations. Three of the cities had specific visual or performing arts centers where programs took place. Eight of the cities had visual or performing arts camps that ran for at least one-week or longer throughout the summer months. Proportionately more cities than special districts had summer concert series (9 of the 12 cities; 1 of the 6 special districts).

Nontraditional program offerings included literary and culinary arts experiences and culturally-based touring opportunities. Table 2 shows that three of the cities, two of the districts, and both of the regional organizations offered literary arts programs. Five of the cities and two of the districts offered culinary arts programs. Five of the cities and three of the districts offered cultural-based touring opportunities with those serving adults far more often than youth.

Table 2.



What It All Means
Given the data of those organizations studied, it appears that the visual and performing arts are frequently offered in public recreation settings throughout the state. In addition, these offerings appear diverse in terms of their applicability to different age groups and interests. Besides offering a wide variety of visual and performing arts opportunities, newer innovative programs dealing with literary and culinary arts are also being provided.

These findings are of more importance given recent trends in funding for the arts. State arts budgets for the current fiscal year are down substantially from previous years (Kinzer, 2004), including Oregon. State funds for public education in Oregon have also been reduced and the arts are all too often among those programs greatly reduced or eliminated. Very often the general public does not expect or perceive the variety of recreation experiences that are typically offered by Oregon public recreation agencies. Therefore, it is important for recreation professionals to promote arts and cultural programs to those publics who may not realize the extent to which these opportunities exist near their homes and neighborhoods. A proactive approach like this, conceivably goes well beyond bringing public art to parks and recreation facilities. Instead, it positions recreation professionals alongside arts administrators in providing for public needs and interests for arts and cultural programs.

The Future for Arts and Cultural Programming
Those engaged in the provision of arts and cultural programming tend to be aware that such opportunities are viable social, developmental, and community-building experiences. Such programs produce both social value for Oregonians and economic value to the state. As is frequently the case, recreation professionals and arts administrators interested to providing arts and cultural opportunities must strive to do more with less when seeking to identify and implement creative programming options for the public.

As leisure patterns associated with arts and cultural participation become better understood, we can expect public interest to increase, thus placing demands in this growing programming area. Given Oregon’s growing population, (Oregon Blue Book, 2003-2004), program facilitators from all sectors of arts and cultural programming will need to add to the number of experiences currently offered. Programs that address and encourage multiple arts and leisure interests of a greater variety and number of residents will require more innovation and cooperation among professionals.

Cultural collaborations and partnerships between public and nonprofit organizations, and between public and nonprofit and private and commercial businesses can be a way to increase both the number and type of opportunities for arts experiences. Many community-based arts organizations have developed programs in Oregon over the past few years in part because of funding cuts to the schools, and in part by organizational initiative. Many of these and other arts organizations are also including outreach, educational, and recreational activities as part of their ongoing programs. Arts administrators and recreation professionals would likely find it rewarding to consider collaborating with businesses and private enterprises who by design or not, are offering arts programming opportunities to the general public.

We know that early exposure to recreation experiences will establish roots from which future recreation pursuits re-emerge during adulthood (Iso-Ahola, 1980, Kleiber, 1999). And many avocational pursuits in recreation-based arts that were initiated during childhood will remain as serious leisure pursuits throughout adulthood (Stebbins, 1992). Oregon parks and recreation agencies must continue to provide space to create and imagine (CPRS, 2003). The number of and variety of arts programs currently being implemented by those organizations that participated in this study shows that they are indeed providing space to create and imagine for many Oregonians to experience the visual and performing arts. The programming challenge for those of us who are attempting to do more with less, is that we must remain vigilant about nurturing and providing arts and cultural experiences.

Gaylene Carpenter, Associate Professor in Arts & Administration at the University of Oregon. Participating organizations are available upon request.

Next article: Outcome based Evaluation: Practical and Theoretical Applications


CPRS. (2003). California Park & Recreation Society Vision, Insight & Planning Action Plan.

Florida, R. (2002). The rise of the creative class. New York: Basic Books.

Hauser, D. (2004). Connecting arts and economic development. Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.

Henderson, K. A. (1991). Dimensions of choice: A qualitative approach to recreation, parks, and leisure research. State College, PA: Venture Publishing Co.

Iso-Ahola, S. E. (1980). The social psychology of leisure and recreation. Dubuque, IO: Wm. C. Brown Company.

Kleiber, D. A. (1999). Leisure experience and human development. New York: Basic Books.

Kinzer, S. (2004). Many state arts councils make their case and survive budget cuts. New York Times, January 8.

McCarthy, K.F., & Jinnett, K. (2001). A new framework for building participation in the arts. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.

National Endowment for the Arts. (1997). 1997 Survey of public participation in the arts. NEA Research Division Report 39.

Oregon Blue Book, (2003-2004). Salem, OR: Office of the Secretary of State.

Stebbins, R. A. (1992). Amateurs, professionals, and serious leisure. Montreal: McGill- Queen’s University Press.

Gaylene Carpenter is on the faculty in Arts & Administration where she teaches courses in arts program theory, event management, and marketing arts organizations.  She is a Certified Leisure Professional with the National Recreation and Park Association and the Oregon Recreation and Park Association, is a founding Board Member for the Oregon Festival and Event Association (OFEA), and a member of the International Festivals and Events Association. She is author of a number of articles, co-authored two textbooks, and presented sessions at a number of workshops related to leisure programming, festival, and event management in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the U.S. She has received awards for distinguished service to the Pacific Northwest Region of the National Recreation and Park Association, the American Association for Leisure and Recreation, the Excellence in Teaching Award given by the Society of Park and Recreation Educators. This year, she is the president of the American Academy of Leisure and was awarded OFEA's Ovation Award for Lifetime Achievement.  As Principal Investigator for A Study of Leisure During Adulthood (ASOLDA), Dr. Carpenter heads up the only longitudinal study of its kind designed to examine change and continuity in leisure and life perceptions, values and wants out of life, and life experiences for middle aged adults.

CultureWork is an electronic publication of the University of Oregon Institute for Community Arts Studies. Its mission is to provide timely workplace-oriented information on culture, the arts, education, and community. For previous issues of CultureWork, visit the Previous Issues page. Prospective authors and illustrators please see the Guidelines.

Opinions expressed by authors of CultureWork broadsides do not necessarily express those of the editors, the Institute for Community Arts Studies, or the University of Oregon.

Arts and Administration | The Institute for Community Arts Studies(I.C.A.S.)

©2004 The Institute for Community Arts Studies unless otherwise noted (see above Creative Commons license); all other publication rights revert to the author(s), illustrator(s), or artist(s) thereof.

Editor: Maria Finison                                        Advisor: Dr. Douglas Blandy

Comments to: mfinison@darkwing.uoregon.edu