The Roundhouse Foundation has supported the work of the creative community in Central Oregon since 2002. The mission has always been, in part, to promote the economy of Sisters and Central Oregon through the arts.
Trustees of the Foundation had been dreaming of creating a center with state-of-the-art studio space for artists to excel through education and access to the proper tools. The center would also work to preserve the beauty of the area and honor its local historical roots. The Center envisioned had to be beautiful and inspiring.
In 2005, The Roundhouse Foundation funded a study asking what was needed in the Sisters area to support the artist community. The answer was — support for local artists and galleries. Help increase sales by bringing more buyers. More joint advertising and promotion.
Much of that has occurred — we now have a state designated Arts District, many more healthy galleries, more opportunities for artists to showcase their work, and the Sisters Arts Association. Public art has increased and we have added a magnificent new entry sculpture at the West Portal entrance to Sisters in the new roundabout.
In 2016, Roundhouse Foundation revisited the question of where the needs are now, eleven years later and the answer was very much different. The community at large was invited to give input around the Center for Visual Arts. Roundhouse Foundation enlisted the help of 30 local artists. We wanted to have local working artists experience an artist residency to inform how Sisters could be designed. We sent artists to Penland in North Carolina, Arrowmont in Tennessee, Sitka Center at the Oregon coast, Sedona, Arizona and even to Maine in the middle of winter.
Each of these artists participated in a class or residency program and brought back information about how their experience could be replicated here in Sisters. The artists enthusiastically endorsed the idea for a Center in Sisters.