Grant will fund UO project to catalog historic theaters

It’s summer time, and the living has become a bit easier ― for tourists anyway.

The Oregon Tourism Commission, also known as Travel Oregon, has given out almost a dozen $120,000 grants to tourism development projects across the state. One of them went to the UO-based Community Service Center, which will use the money to gauge the condition of historical theaters around the state.

Center director Robert Parker spearheaded the grant application. He said the project grew out of concern that many of these theatres were falling into disrepair. 

“The first thing that astonished me was there was no inventory of these things and they’re tremendous community assets,” Parker said, adding that a number of them “are either not operating or (are) financially teetering on insolvency.”

Parker and others at the center  wanted to look at ways to maintain historic theaters as well as improve them or bring them up to modern standards. As Parker puts it, “for small communities those particular facilities have the capacity to be really significant anchors for downtowns that have been struggling.”Outside of the UO theater project, a good portion of the grant winners are planning friendlier spaces for bikers across the state. Klamath and Lane County both have biking projects in mind.

Also, the International Mountain Bike Association is looking to build a 1.5-mile mountain bike trail on the Rouge River, and Team Dirt, a subsidiary of the IMBA, is planning a one-mile bicycle trail near Alsea Falls.

The funding comes through Travel Oregon’s matching grants program. Carole Astley, a senior manager at Travel Oregon, said the projects are aimed at improving the state’s infrastructure and bolstering the Oregon economy by drawing more tourists. 

The 11 projects will be completed between September 2014 and September 2015, and the matching grants program’s next round will begin in 2016.

―By Nathan Stevens, Public Affairs Communications intern