Friday, May 9, 2014

spring thots and a quick harangue

dear friends,

Spring has returned to my home town (and so have I).  Everything's in bloom and the petals blow like spring time snow.

I'm back from the Marxist Brothers tour and brewing up fun here at home.

Saturday, May 10 at 11:00 a.m. I'm doing the young folks' set at SATURDAY MARKET

Saturday, May 10 at 9:00 pm The AXES OF EVIL STRING QUARTET will be at the Wandering Goat Coffee House, sharing the evening with my good friend & colleague CORWIN BOLT and his PDX friend STINKY PETE IRVING.  A rare appearance for the Axes and a fun collaboration.

Saturday, May 17 at 2:30 pm CHICO SCHWALL AND FRIENDS will play Irish music for the Eugene Scottish Festival at Peace Presbyterian Church.

Saturday, May 17th at 7:30 pm I'll be singing and playing at WE SHALL OVERCOME, a Pete Seeger-themed evening at Temple Beth Israel with Rob Tobias and others.

Saturday, May 24 at 5:00 pm THE LOW TIDE DRIFTERS  will continue the celebration of our new CD/download "MUSIC FOR THE REST OF US"  with a show at TSUNAMI BOOKS. Great place to gather and books are 20% off…

AND… tickets are on sale now for "BEYOND LLEWYN DAVIS: THE (REAL) MUSIC OF DAVE VAN RONK"  at THE SHEDD. This is a totally unique project and it'll be a one-off so be there or be square.

Hope to see you at a show!

Now the harangue:

The general meeting and annual elections for the Community Center for the Performing Arts, the W.O.W. Hall are coming up on May 14.  A few years ago I served on the Board of Directors of the CCPA and it was a curious mix: it's community owned and has by-laws in place to keep it democratic and responsive to the community. At the same time, the place is largely run by its employees without administration or oversight and this has resulted in a loss of its role as a community center for the arts. It's currently a dance hall with no investment in education or outreach. High production costs place it out of reach for local artists. There's no employee review, no policy direction, no diversity plan, no equal opportunity hiring etc. Every year the staff and their families and friends dominate the general meeting and try to elect an inexperienced and tractable board of directors to okay their actions and maintain the status quo.
Like a lot of folks, I pretty much turned my back on the CCPA and turned toward other ventures. But some things have shifted. Some good people have been on the Board and are working to make the hall more accountable. An employee was even disciplined last year, an unusual step. With a little support, the Board could bring the Hall back. Some employees with good skills are also making positive changes. But it's not easy. One board member and several employees have talked about leaving, due to an "unprofessional" environment and a "negative work place."  The Hall needs these folks more than it needs its old habits.

Seems like the CCPA is at a turning point. If people show up at the meeting and elect/re-elect responsible directors the structures are in place to put the CCPA back on a more community oriented track. If you have any interest in making this happen, or even if you're just curious, re-up your membership, or join, and go to the general meeting. Listen to the candidates for board, ask questions about the budget. The reason that things have gone astray is that not enough folks have cared. All it takes is folks showing up in sufficient numbers.  I encourage you to show up and see if we can make a difference.

Hope all's well,

Chico Schwall