56605 Sitka Drive
Otis, OR 97368
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March Director's Journal

Each time I leaf through Sitka’s Spring + Summer Guide a different workshop calls out to me. This morning it is first-time Sitka writing instructor Silk-Jazmyne Hindus’s workshop, Complete Worldbuilding for This World and Others, that captures my imagination. This sentence in the course description resonates:

“This workshop will utilize elements of speculative fiction (such as time travel, fluidity of time and the use of sorcery) as a means to challenge and explore personal and systemic confrontations of the human experience.”  

Arriving at Sitka, I often feel as if I am passing through C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe or crossing over into Katherine Patterson’s Terabithia on a rope swing. Entering this forest and campus feels serene, enlivening and playful all at once. Ferns unfurl. Spruces wave in welcome. There is a magical realism to this place.

Nestled in a forest that often feels enchanted, it is no wonder that myths swirl around Sitka.

One of the most enduring myths is that the tuition from our workshops covers our annual operating costs for the entire year. The reality, however, is different. While tuition revenue supports the direct costs of hosting our workshops—from instructor compensation to supplies—it doesn't fully cover indirect workshop expenses such as administrative and facilities-related costs or fund our other programs, such as our Youth Program.

If tuition was priced to cover the full direct and indirect costs of hosting 100 workshops each spring and summer, Sitka’s workshop fees would be over 50% higher.

Sitka's Youth Program takes place out in the community at rural Tillamook and Lincoln County schools with limited or no art programs of their own.

Instead, it is the collective generosity of the Sitka community that keeps Sitka’s magic alive. Many join as members and make operational gifts. Some invite friends and family to join them for workshops, helping new people discover Sitka. Together, with support from foundations and the foresight of those who include Sitka in their wills and estate plans, these are the fairies and spirits and who enchant this place and keep our programs evergreen.

“Talking with new instructors is eye-opening,” Program Manager Maria Elting shares, noting their surprise when they discover that Sitka pays for their teaching time in addition to providing lodging. “Many places ask artists to trade their teaching for lodging, and all too often arts workers are asked to donate their art and expertise. I love that we can provide paid opportunities for so many working artists and educators and such an inspiring venue in which to learn and teach.”

Returning Instructor Nora Sherwood will reprise her Intimate Mushroom Portraits workshop in September.

“I did some research,” Assistant Director Nicola Harrison shares. “It costs between $30 to $65 to rent a kayak for one hour at the nearest outfit on the coast, with no instruction or guide. The average cost per Workshop hour is less than $25. The quality of what happens at Sitka in the spring and summer truly is amazing.”

“When the 2024 Workshop season opens,” Facilities and Ecology Manager Jake Simondet reports, “guests will be greeted with new hand railings and outdoor lighting, along with some other campus improvements.” These upgrades will be made possible in part by a recent $61,000 grant awarded through Tillamook’s Visitor’s Association transient lodging tax program to keep Sitka’s campus safe and inviting. “To have support from the County like this is so impactful,” Jake reflects.

As we anticipate the joy of another workshop season at Sitka, thank you to everyone who sustains us. It is an honor to serve this community of people who care so deeply about the importance of art and nature access for all.

With gratitude for everyone helping to build a world in which support for working artists and access to art and nature are valued,

Alison Dennis

Executive Director