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University of Oregon Announces Oregon Folklife Network

Thursday, September 30, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lisa Gilman
We are delighted to announce that the Oregon Folklife Network, a statewide public folklore organization, is being established at the University of Oregon. As many of you know, the Oregon Folklife Program (OFP) was first housed at Lewis and Clark College, and then at the Oregon Historical Society from 1993-2009. The OHS dissolved the OFP in June 2009, yet another victim of the financial crisis.

News that the OFP would be dissolved inspired a statewide strategic planning process that involved stakeholders from arts, heritage, and cultural organizations and faculty from several universities and colleges across the state. The result was that the University of Oregon was selected to house a new vision for public folklore in Oregon based on a network model.

UO administrators have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the OFN. The UO Libraries dean provided us with very visible and centrally located space within the Knight Library. The Office of Research and Graduate School provided us with a graduate assistant for the 2010-2011 academic year, and we are still waiting to hear about other university contributions. Partners in the network have equally been very generous. The OFN received significant grants from the Oregon Cultural Trust and the Oregon Arts Commission, and we're waiting to hear about other possibilities.

We are currently in the process of establishing the OFN by setting up shop in our new office space and hiring an Interim Program Manager for the 2010-2011 year. We anticipate hiring a full-time director in Fall 2011.

The OFN will officially launch this fall with the symposium "Public Folklore in the 21st Century," which will feature Bill Ivey, leaders in the arts and heritage world in the region, and UO students and faculty. The symposium will explore how changes in demographics, economics, politics, and technology impact the definitions, goals, and methods of public folklore today. We hope that those of you nearby will join us for this event. More details to follow soon.

We look forward to lots of information sharing and collaboration as we continue to work to make the OFN a viable and successful organization!

On the academic front, I should mention that at long last, our MA has been moved out of the graduate school and into the Folklore Program. We are now officially a degree granting unit! And, our dean is encouraging us to submit proposals for an undergraduate major and minor in Folklore.

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