August 22, 2023

OCF Invests $1 Million in Visionary Oregon Arts and Culture Projects

"My Father’s Father’s Sister: Our Ancestor Shimkhin” at Chachalu Museum & Cultural Center, Grand Ronde

Fourteen Grantees Building Community by Elevating Underrepresented Voices and Increasing Access to Arts Experiences Across Oregon

Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) announced today that the Foundation will invest $1 million in visionary Oregon arts and culture projects through OCF’s 2023 Creative Heights Initiative.

This year’s Creative Heights grantees are launching projects that celebrate culture, bring lost stories to light, center historically overlooked perspectives and provide more opportunities for individuals with disabilities to make and experience art.

OCF’s 2023 Creative Heights awards support projects by visionary artists and arts and culture organizations that are building community by elevating underrepresented voices and increasing access to innovative arts experiences across Oregon.

“Oregon Community Foundation is proud to support these visionary artists with our 2023 Creative Heights grants,” said Chey Kuzma, Associate Program Officer, Arts and Culture, Oregon Community Foundation. “Artists throughout our state are thoughtfully uplifting the importance of arts and culture within our current climate, creating genuine connection, and bringing a bit of magic to our communities. We are grateful for and awed by these grantees’ dedication to Oregon’s thriving arts and culture community.”

Following is a snapshot of just some of the extraordinary projects that OCF is supporting with the 2023 Creative Heights Initiative funding:

Crystal Akins Meneses (Lead Artist) | Activate Arts (Fiscal Sponsor)

$100,000 2023 Creative Heights Grant

To support Crystal Akins Meneses’ Creative Heights Project to create a collaborative cross-organization fellowship for artists with neurodivergent disabilities.

“Receiving Oregon Community Foundation’s Creative Heights grant for this project is life-changing for all artists with disabilities,” said Crystal Akins Meneses, Founder, Activate Arts. “What inspires me to guide this collective is the possibility that one day, youth artists with disabilities can see themselves contributing as professional creatives.”

Anthony Hudson & Felix Furby (Lead Artists) | Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde (Fiscal Sponsor)

$99,000 2023 Creative Heights Grant

To support Anthony Hudson & Felix Furby’s Creative Heights "The Shumkhi Project", celebrating Oregon's queer Indigenous history with a new exhibit — and supporting programming — about Two-Spirit Tualatin Kalapuya healer Shumkhi (or Shimkhin) (1820-1904) and highlighting contemporary Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer contributions to our communities.

“When we opened our current exhibit on our transfeminine ancestor Shimkhin, we did it with what support we could muster in the moment. Now we get to share Shimkhin’s history — and the histories of ten international Indigiqueer artists — with not only our community at Grand Ronde but across our occupied homelands,” said Anthony Hudson.

Photo courtesy of Cymaspace


$97,000 2023 Creative Heights Grant

To increase accessibility of dance and music to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community by using Universal Design and haptics vibration technology to build a dance floor and bodysuits that translate music from an auditory experience to a physical one.

“We believe that music is innate and born in everyone and by tapping into that potential we can bring the music out in whatever form that may be,” said Nate Hergert, Project Lead, Universal Music Design Team, Cymaspace. “The Cymaspace project, ‘The Universal Design of Music,’ unlocks the potential for accessibility in music using haptic technology that incorporates our ethos: ‘All the Senses’ — making the magic of sound tangible for the deaf,” said Dr. Shawn Trail, Research & Production Coordinator, Universal Music Design Team, Cymaspace.

JR Rymut (Lead Artist) | Josephy Center for Arts and Culture (Fiscal Sponsor)

$75,000 2023 Creative Heights Grant

To support JR Rymut's Creative Heights Project, “Haunt Camp”, providing youth artist mentorship to design an experimental, narratively driven, immersive walkthrough performance piece for a rural community in Eastern Oregon on Halloween weekend.

“Oregon Community Foundation’s Creative Heights grant is nothing short of life-changing,” said JR Rymut, Program Director, Haunt Camp. “There are no more limits on Haunt Camp's most lofty ambitions and the network of art people who create it.”

A complete list of all 14 2023 Creative Heights grantees can be found online, in OCF’s Press Room.

OCF’s Creative Heights initiative provides opportunities for artists and culture bearers to stretch their creative capacity, share new works and test new ideas. The initiative has invested roughly $1 million per year since 2014, encompassing 126 projects across a range of visual art, dance, folk and traditional arts, film/video/media, literary arts, museum exhibitions, humanities projects, music, theater and performance arts, history and heritage projects, and multidisciplinary artistic works.