Although the OFN based itself at the University of Oregon starting in 2010, Oregon has long had a public folklife program, which was housed for many years at Lewis and Clark College and then at the Oregon Historical Society. Today, the U. of O. provides financial and collaborative support from the Folklore Program, the Special Collections and University Archives (Knight Library), and the Arts Administration Program with fiscal/administrative oversight from Academic Extension.
From 1977-2009, statewide services supporting folklife and traditional arts in Oregon were provided under the aegis of several organizations, first through the Oregon Arts Commission, then Lewis and Clark College, and then the Oregon Historical Society. The Oregon Folklife Program, within the Oregon Historical Society, ceased program operations in June 2009, due to financial difficulties. Although the Oregon Folklife Program struggled financially, it was known for the leadership of its professional folklorists who planned and implemented high quality programs across the state.
In Fall 2009, the Arts Commission contracted with community cultural development consultant Bill Flood, to facilitate a planning process to consider options for a new and sustainable system for providing folklife services in Oregon. This new folklife support system was designed to be innovative in how it draws upon and knits together Oregon’s folklife stakeholders and folklife assets, to be current in its approach, and to demonstrate clear strategies for sustainable financial support. The Network model was created to build support for folklife and develop an institutional base in a way that the former iterations of the program were not able to accomplish.
The newly revisioned and revitalized Oregon Folklife Network was launched from its new hub at the University of Oregon in Fall 2010. It is emerging as an exciting collaboration of statewide agencies, grassroots organizations, and University resources. The Network is still very much under development as we define the partnership model, invite student participation and explore programming collaborations with communities across the state. We are currently programming a series of Listening Sessions, and Meet & Greets including face-to-face opportunities to learn about the unique assets and programs already in existence across our state, while reaching out with Network assets to help promote, add value, or fill in gaps identified at the local level. Check out Programs and Projects to see what we’re doing around Oregon.