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An outstanding element of Western Oregon University’s public service mission for the past 39 years has been the Smith Fine Arts Series, contributing to the University’s growing reputation as a center for the arts in the mid-Willamette Valley. The series was created in 1976 by Edgar H. Smith, a leading arts advocate and educator, to inaugurate the opening of Rice Auditorium. The series was later named for Dr. Smith on the occasion of his death in 1979.
The Smith Fine Arts Series is supported by ticket sales, grants, individual membership donations, and private and corporate sponsors. Western Oregon University provides the venue, management, and technical support. The 589-seat Rice Auditorium on the WOU campus serves as the performance venue and outreach facility; it operates with support of in-kind services from the University.
An 18-member board selected from Monmouth, Dallas, Independence and Salem governs the series, serving three-year terms. The board includes representatives of the business community; education; senior citizens; and University faculty, staff and, students. The Board of Directors is a working board with each member actively participating in committee assignments and board responsibilities throughout the year.
The Smith Fine Arts Series is managed by an artistic director with many years of experience in the arts. The series presents jazz, classical music, dance, and world music. Many of the artists also present outreach or master classes aimed at K-12 and university students