Better sound in the Tower Theatre. It’s one of 12 local projects being funded with money from tourists.
Visit Central Oregon, the regional destination marketing organization, is giving more than $800,000 to projects that support sustainable tourism.
From its original construction in 1940, the Tower Theater has always had excellent acoustics. A performer speaking or singing on stage can be clearly heard at the back of the theatre.
But when performances are amplified, the sound waves reflect off the sidewalls, canceling or accentuating certain sounds.
“Listeners hear that as distortions in the auditory field by high piercing highs, rumbling lows and sometimes lack of intelligibility within the voice range, the human voice range,” said Gary Gallagher, Vice President of the Tower Theatre Board of Directors. “This should even out those distortions, reduce those reflections and make the sound all that much better.”
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Visit Central Oregon’s Future Fund is awarding the Tower Theatre $49,000 to complete its sound mitigation project this summer.
“Each one of these throughout the theatre, all the way up through the balcony, will have absorptive panels on it,” said Gallagher.
It’s one example of how $840,000 in hotel room taxes paid by tourists are being distributed to 12 projects that promote accessible adventure, cultural tourism and stewardship.
“The Future Fund in its inaugural year was a nice amount because we had some funds that we generated through the pandemic that we weren’t able to spend on marketing,” said Julia Theisen, CEO of Visit Central Oregon. “We wanted to reinvest these dollars back into the region for positive impact in tourism projects. We think these projects will benefit both residents and visitors and I think the Tower Theatre is a great example of that.”
The 2023 Central Oregon Future Fund grant winners include:
- Bend Parks and Recreation District, River Access Improvements Phase 3 ($100,000): Aimed at improving river access along a busy stretch of the Deschutes River, while also restoring habitat and ensuring sustainable water enjoyment for decades to come.
- Central Oregon Trail Alliance, Welcome to Central Oregon’s Trails ($60,000): Aimed at welcoming locals and visitors to Central Oregon trails, beyond the most popular near Bend, by improving signage and trip planning information.
- Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District, Got Stars Central Oregon ($95,000): The Oregon Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Assoc., Deschutes Soil and Water Conservation District, and its eight Central Oregon partners, are collaborating on a community-wide initiative to showcase the importance and solutions related to dark skies and astro-tourism through outreach, education, and signage and lighting improvements.
- Discover Your Forest, Skull Hollow Trail Head ($77,375): Facility improvements to enhance a diverse mixed-use trail area and prevent further resource damage to the most visited trailhead in the Crooked River National Grassland.
- High Desert Museum, Changing Exhibits Initiative ($50,000): The Changing Exhibit Initiative brings new and exciting experiences to the museum, driving attendance, and supporting Central Oregon’s thriving arts and culture community.
- Maupin Area Chamber Endowment, Deschutes River Athletic Complex ($60,000): Enhancements to the Deschutes River Athletic Complex, upgrading its track and football field, performing arts stage and spectator facilities.
- Oregon Adaptive Sports, Moving Mountains ($67,475): Program will enhance opportunities for residents and visitors with disabilities and their families to access Central Oregon’s outdoor recreation opportunities.
- Oregon Equestrian Trails, Sheep Springs Horse Camp Steel Corral Upgrade ($66,083): Oregon Equestrian Trails will install steel corrals at Sheep Springs Horse Camp, providing safe and durable corrals critical for equine safety and visitor enjoyment.
- Sisters Trails Alliance, Whychus Overlook Accessibility Enhancement Project ($37,152): Modification of the existing masonry wall with two 10-foot viewing sections and refitting it with a cable-rail assembly to create a fully inclusive overlook at the Whychus Creek Overlook.
- Sunriver Owners Association, Sunriver Pathway Wayfinding Signs ($74,148): The project will add 25 new signs throughout Sunriver, providing enhanced wayfinding for residents and visitors.
- Tower Theatre, Sound Mitigation Project ($49,140): This project will fully complete comprehensive sound mitigation to improve, enhance, and clarify audio amplification in the historic Bend venue.
- Warm Springs Community Action Team, Warm Springs Commissary ($100,000): A collaborative project, this is aimed at creating a sustainable destination and business incubator supporting 40 aspiring or current small business owners in the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
To be selected, winning applications had to be aligned with three program pillars: Stewardship, cultural tourism, and expanding access to outdoor adventure. The grants are entirely funded by revenue generated from the region’s transient room tax that is dedicated to tourism programs.