On Novermber 15th, 2012, I spoke with Karen Rainsong, the then Technology and Outreach Coordinator of the ambitious website Eugene-A-Go-Go. Karen Rainsong is now the Managing Director of the Arts & Business Alliance of Eugene. The site describes its use this way: “Eugene A Go-Go is YOUR comprehensive online arts and culture community. It’s the place where you can find out about all of the arts and culture activities happening throughout Eugene and our surrounding community – from festivals, performances and exhibits to classes, auditions and ways to engage with the arts through volunteer and board opportunities.” Rainsong described the site as being as democratic as possible, in that it “levels the playing field” by not highlighting one activity, venue, or artist over another. It aims to be as inclusive a tool as possible for everyone interested in arts and culture in Eugene. It is a fantastic resource for the community.
Rainsong spoke about collaboration being a “wave of the future” in arts programming. She cited such examples as bands like Pretty Lights incorporating laser light shows into their sets (see video below of Pretty Lights at the Cuthbert on 9/13/12), and an invitation-only, 1920’s speakeasy-meets-The Dark Crystal warehouse event in Portland a few months ago. Another recent popular event in Eugene took place at Bijoux Art Cinemas. The band Mood Area 52 played a live score to a screening of the film Dracula. The annual outdoor, weekend-long festival Faerieworlds has also been a mainstay of the Eugene event scene for years, combining music, workshops, food, craft vendors, and camping all organized around the theme of faeries. Saying the most successful events foster a palpable sense of excitement through a special atmosphere, Rainsong agreed that interdisciplinary events do a better-than-average job at engaging audiences, tending to be more participatory than ordinary musical concerts.
The revitalization of downtown Eugene has recently become a hot topic around town. Rainsong talked about how the cultural arts district downtown is viewed as a bit polarized, creating a division between more “dive” -type bars and high-brow cultural events. She said that the new student housing being developed for Lane Community College downtown is likely to blur that line, bringing in “new blood” and support for all kinds of art events, and “filling out that middle ground.” Other recent cultural additions to the downtown area that help bridge this gap include the dance club Cowfish and community performance space The Jazz Station.