30 Years of Supporting Readers, Writers, and Students
Literary Arts began in 1984 with a small lecture series designed to bring leading authors and cultural thinkers to Portland. Within four years, demand for tickets moved Portland Arts & Lectures to the 2,700–seat concert hall at which it currently resides. Now a Portland tradition, the series brings the brightest minds of our day to present original talks about literature, art, history and contemporary culture before one of the largest lecture audiences in the country.
In 1993, we joined with the Oregon Institute of Literary Arts to support and celebrate Oregon writers and publishers. Through the Oregon Book Awards and Fellowships, we have honored over 500 Oregon writers and publishers and distributed more than $700,000 in fellowships and awards.
In 1996, we started Writers in the Schools (WITS) to cultivate young readers and writers, and support Oregon authors, through residencies in the public schools. The program has grown to employ over 20 Oregon writers each year, who teach semester–long writing workshops in all Portland public high schools and several alternative programs.
In 1997, we made literature a part of commuters’ everyday lives with Poetry In Motion®, which displays artfully designed poem cards on buses and lightrail trains throughout the Portland metro area.
In 1998, we introduced the Oregon Book Awards Author Tour, which presents readings by award-winning authors and finalists in rural and underserved communities throughout the state. In 2001, we began Poetry Downtown, bringing world–renowned poets to Portland to read from and discuss their work in a four–part series. In 2004, we brought short fiction to the stage through Verb: Literature in Performance. And in 2005, we began offering Delve: Readers’ Seminars, a tuition-based program that engages readers in discussion-based seminars led by professional writers and scholars on classic and contemporary literature.
In all, our programs reach more than 13,500 writers, readers, teachers and students across the state each year.