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
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
Missy Rice Cook
Missy Rice Cook has lived in Albany for nearly all of her life. She is married to Justin who is quite possibly the funnest and most handsome person she has ever met. They have two children, Jackson and Natalie, who make everyday an adventure. Missy sells Norwex, is a substitute teacher, makes and sells dolls, and does whatever else to make money that sounds interesting and doesn’t take away too much from family time. Mostly though, she takes care of her family, does a lot of sewing and other crafting, baking, reading, and enjoying life. Her dream is to go on as many adventures as she can with her family.
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.
Brian moved to the Willamette Valley from Las Vegas in 2014. He has been a performer, educator, and technophile throughout each chapter of his adult life. Brian has launched successful theatrical shows at The Majestic Theater in Corvallis and taught improvisational theory for the local community and for OSU programs. He is thrilled to be part of any efforts that encourage and inspire his neighbors to involve themselves in the Arts.
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.
Michael Winder started Midsummer Arts in 2013, after seeing the Monteith park stage and thinking, “hey, we should do a show there.” (For the record, Michael thinks that about pretty much any space larger than your average living room.) Since moving back to Oregon in 2011, he has written, directed, and performed in several shows at the Majestic Theatre, ACT, LBCC, and of course, in Midsummer Arts. He does tons of improv, not nearly enough of it with Ben. He believes in the transformative power of art, that it can improve communities and make us better, faster, stronger.
Christi Clark is a proud, life-long resident of Albany. She lives in an historic home with her husband and dog. She’s seen many changes in Albany in the past five decades and is especially excited to see the downtown area flourishing now. As a fairly recent empty-nester with a daughter in college, Christi has been interested in getting better connected in the downtown community, and the Midsummer Arts Festival found her! Christi is looking forward to using her love of art, music, and children’s activities to help build the presence of this festival so that others can start – or continue – to love this Albany community as much as she does.
Johanna Spencer has lived in Albany for 25+ years. She has worked as a Federal Civil Servant in this community and raised a family here. She has been involved with Midsummer Arts from the inaugural season and is passionate about volunteering and creating theater and drama in the mid Willamette Valley.
Rus has been involved in local theater for several years, directing and performing in productions at Albany Civic Theater, the Majestic Theatre, Linn-Benton Community College, and of course, Midsummer Arts.
Stephanie Newton Azorr