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Updated: September 16, 2022 @ 8:31 pm
A Yaquina Head Artist in Residence program was recently launched, and applications are still being sought from artists interested in being selected for this three-week program, which will be from mid-May to early June. (News-Times file photo)

A Yaquina Head Artist in Residence program was recently launched, and applications are still being sought from artists interested in being selected for this three-week program, which will be from mid-May to early June. (News-Times file photo)
NEWPORT — Despite a few obstacles, the Yaquina Head Artist in Residence (AiR) program has launched, and organizing members of the partnering organizations hope this is the first of many years to come.
“The goal this year was just to kick it off and get it going,” said Matt Betenson, Yaquina Head Site Manager, Bureau of Land Management. “We wanted AiR this year to celebrate a sort of rebirth. We expect it to continue in future years as well.”
Betenson said the AiR program, which originated in the National Parks Service, has been around for about 10 years, and he was familiar with it from a previous job in Utah. He considered starting the program in the past but the timing was never quite right.
After some recent discussions about the many local events that were missing due to pandemic restrictions and safety protocols, the subject of the AiR program came up again between Betenson, Amy Anderson, executive director of Friends of Yaquina Lighthouses (FoYL), and Jason Holland, executive director of the Oregon Coast Center for the Arts. Their consensus was to get the program kicked off the ground.
“We are all tremendously excited to be a part of this opportunity and look forward to the relationships it will help to forge with our local artists and the broader community at large,” Anderson said. “It really connects the community and seemed like a natural fit for Yaquina Head.”
One of the major stumbling blocks to the program is a lack of affordable housing. Anderson said they are working with the BLM on the prospect of providing a small space onsite in the future, but for now they intend to concentrate heavily on the local community so that the lack of housing is not such a huge issue.  
“We are looking for donated housing,” Betenson explained. “We need area people who would like to donate housing to the artist, or even a trailer to put onsite. Ideally, we want the artist on site more than off site. This year, it is a challenge.”
Not having the residency component limits who can apply for it at this time. “But that is where we had to start,” Holland said. “Hopefully, next year we can grow it and add a residency aspect.”
Since there is no housing at Yaquina Head, FoYL is providing a stipend for the artist. “We know that many artists do not have the luxury of earning their entire livelihood from their artwork, and so many people are struggling to make ends meet,” Anderson said. “We felt that by providing a stipend we would be ensuring that the applicant field was as diverse as possible.”
Holland said the typical AiR program is to have the artists do it for free, but they felt it was important to pay the artist. “It’s not a ton of money, but it’s about respecting people’s time and talent. There’s a value to that.”
The chosen artist will spend three weeks — from mid-May to early June — creating work inspired by the area. The time of year was chosen because of the greater likelihood of the weather being good. “There is a thoughtfulness about spring … birth, hatchlings and plants coming to life,” Holland said. “Many different art forms will work really well there — it doesn’t have to be painting.”
The idea is to have the artist be inspired by the environment, and the possibilities so the different types of art forms are nearly endless. “What if it’s a choreographer, or a writer, or a composer? It could even be video-based,” Holland said. 
Whatever medium the artist creates, it will culminate in a Showcase of the Art scheduled in July. If the artist creates a visual piece, it will be displayed at the Newport Visual Arts Center. If it is a performative work, it will be featured at the Newport Performing Arts Center.
Interested artists may find more information and application materials at https://www.blm.gov/getinvolved/artist-in-residence/air-sites/yaquina-head.
Applications must be received by midnight March 7 and be submitted via email at blm_or_no_yhona_comments@blm.govApplications
“This is a really unique opportunity in the agency, and we are excited to offer it at Yaquina Head,” Betenson said. “We need more fun in the world and hope this program is something that people can see and have fun. I think we will all be surprised at what they produce.”
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