What is this annual festival of the performing arts, showcasing the best theater, dance, and vocal talent in the Linn/Benton region, all free and fun for the whole family? Great question!
Sandwiched between Eugene and Portland, the Albany/Corvallis area may seem culturally sparse by comparison. But look around a bit, and you’ll see several successful community theater productions, dance companies, choirs, improv troupes, and school groups staging great shows and concerts. The idea for Midsummer Arts started, in part, as a way to celebrate this great art created in our community. We have choirs that perform internationally, a community theater that’s been around for 60+ years, and top-shelf talent in sold-out shows at LBCC, the Majestic, and more. Why not put as much of this performing arts goodness onto the Monteith stage, in a beautiful sunny park, and share with one and all?
Research shows that a community with more arts events also has lower crime rates, higher SAT scores, and greater overall community solidarity. This stuff is good for you, even if it seems like a bunch of silly fun at times. And who can argue with that as a goal? Improve the community by having fun. Sounds good to us.
Since 2013, Midsummer Arts has featured performances from Legacy Ballet, Albany Civic Theater, LBCC Performing Arts, Infinite Improv, SAHS Theater Arts, Sole Expressions Dance Studio, Willamette Valley Puppeteers, and more. All nestled in the sunny confines of Monteith Riverpark, the first Saturday in August.
Midsummer Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization that produces the annual free arts festival of the same name. We are designed to engage the communities of the mid-Willamette Valley through greater access to local arts and cultural diversity, and exposure to historic downtown Albany. Nonprofit Tax ID: 46-1898226.
OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jane Donovan likes to read; throughout her life she’s buried her head in a book as often as she could escape. As a girl, she remembers hiding from chores up in a tree with a book in her hand. And to this day, she still craves time with a book. She also likes to read aloud, reading to four kids, grandkids, all eight of them, whenever they would sit still enough to listen. And, performing literature for an audience has always been fun for her, directing, acting, especially readers theater. Women who perform and make a difference in the world inspire her: Mother Theresa, Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon, to name a few. She joined the Midsummer Arts board because she wanted Albany families to have a chance to make and enjoy all kinds of art, including dramatic performance, for free, on a summer day in tree-filled Monteith Park. Though she doesn’t even like heights very much any more, she still remembers the magic of a leafy getaway.
Sarah Whiteside has lived in Albany for 17+ years and LOVES living and raising her family in this community. She has worked in education all her life and has been with Midsummer Arts since the beginning. Sarah volunteers for Midsummer Arts because it represents several things she is passionate about: education, the arts, community service, and fun stuff for the whole family.
Nancy Koll is co-founder and board president of Mid-Valley Prelude Sinfonia, a non-profit youth orchestra program in Albany. Her passion for music education started when her two sons were young and showed a heightened interest in playing any object that happened to make music. Over the many, many hours of listening to developing musicians in her household, she realized that music speaks not just to the ears, but to the soul. That, and that musical skill obviously skips a generation (thank you, Grandma and Grandpa). Nancy volunteers for Midsummer Arts to aid in spreading the love for, and value of, the arts in our community. Nancy lives in a historic home in Albany with her husband and sometimes present college-aged sons.
President of the Board
Board Member (ex officio)
Benjamin Sell is the Theater Arts Director at South Albany High School. His is the devious mind behind such recent SAHS hits as Back to the 80’s: The Totally Awesome Musical, Improvnado 2: Son of Improvnado, and, in collaboration with Michael (with a generous assist from Improv at the Majestic), the High School Improv Smackdown series at LBCC. Ben believes strongly in creating opportunities for his students and the community to participate in the arts. In his seemingly non-existent free time, Ben enjoys doing improv, motorcycling, video games, and occasionally sleeping a full 8 hours.
Board Member (ex officio)
Heather began dancing 30+ years ago. She has danced with the Corvallis School of Ballet, Eugene School of Ballet, Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene Dance Pursuit, Ballet Aspen, Royal Winnipeg School of Ballet, and JoAnna Kneeland & Mary Price Boday’s Dance Kinesiology. Heather also worked for 10 years in the medical field as a Certified Medical Assistant and also a PT aide, working with specialists in orthopedics and physical medicine. Her training there has developed her knowledge of body mechanics and how the body should move while dancing. Heather opened Legacy Ballet in 2008, bringing her love of dance to her community with classes in everything from ballet to hip-hop. Heather resides in Albany with her husband, Brandon and their daughter, Rebekah. Heather feels that every dance instructor in her past has taken part in giving her a wonderful gift, one that she loves passing on to aspiring dancers. Heather volunteers for Midsummer Arts because she believes that the arts are vital to having a vibrant community.