Common Ground (August 6-11) is a six-day “gathering for curious people” created by The Historic Trust. Activities take place at the Marshall House, Howard House, Artillery Barracks, Red Cross Building, Providence Academy Ballroom and Chapel, and several outdoor locations. The schedule of events includes read alouds, history, literature displays, tapestry exhibitions, art workshops, opera, tours, dance, and much more.

Richard Burrows, Director of Community Outreach and Programs with The Historic Trust has led this exciting event as part of his latest effort in a long history of supporting the arts and arts education to bring art, artists, and the community together.

“We want you to relate yourself to what you are seeing,” said Burrows. “What is your experience that brings that to life and vice versa.”

Common Ground is the result of multiple partnerships, including Arts of Clark County (now Artstra), the Marshall Foundation, the Fort Vancouver Regional Library, WSUV, Clark County Historical Museum, and Opera On Tap, to name a few.

“What is fun about Common Ground is no one has any expectations of what it can be since this is the first time it is happening,” said Arts of Clark County (now Artstra) Chair Karen Madsen. “It will be unexpected, and those who participate will find it a new and different event for the dog days of summer. August is a good time to try something different.”

Modeled after the iconic chautauquas popular in America more than a hundred years ago, Common Ground brings speakers, teachers, musicians, performers, and craftsmen together to inspire the community. The event will also give people a chance to tap into their creative energies to celebrate the arts, culture, and heritage alive and thriving in Vancouver.

“It’s about leading a quality of life in Vancouver,” said Burrows, “that allows you to open your mind to things.”

Burrows encourages people to come out and give the events at Common Ground a try because it’s a place where you can enjoy art and sample the things that interest you. “Every experience informs the next moment,” said Burrows. “So just give in.”

As an arts advocate blazing new trails and enhancing existing ones, Burrows, also an artist, choreographer, and dancer in his day, knows the value of taking risks to try new things. He encourages people to understand that taking risks promotes growth. And that even in the face of change and adversity you have to see the opportunity that is present. Common Ground reflects artistic values and a desire to promote arts awareness, partnerships, and connections in the community. It provides an opportunity for people to follow their creative hearts into unknown territories, to explore the unexplored, and see new and creative ideas brought to the fore in an effort to inspire and create meaningful connections.

“If you are reaching for something it needs to be further than your ability to reach, said Burrows. “Common Ground is a safe place with no judgments to take risks, be brave, try something new, and enjoy.”

Learn more about The Historic Trust and Common Ground.

— Jackie Genis