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After a mass shooting, Eugene's WOW Hall seeks to heal a traumatized community

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The Community Center for the Performing Arts
The Community Center for the Performing Arts, commonly known as the WOW Hall, has launched a community healing campaign after a mass shooting outside the venue on January 14, 2022.

In the weeks following a mass shooting outside the historic WOW Hall in Eugene, there has been an outpouring of support. The non-profit music and arts venue has channeled offers of help into a community healing campaign.

Deb Maher is acting Executive Director of the WOW Hall. She said after the traumatic event, they’ve all been supporting each other.

“What happened on January 14th--the shooting-- did not just affect people that were here or staff,” she said, “but it has reverberated throughout the whole community, our membership, Oregon, even the whole country.”

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Brian Bull
Six people were shot in the rear lot of the WOW Hall during a hip-hop/rap show on January 14, 2022. It was the first mass shooting to take place in Eugene. All victims survived and the gunman remains at large.

Maher said the unprecedented, unexpected event shook everyone and now collective healing is needed. The venue will begin hosting gatherings once a month with activities like trauma counseling, de-escalation, and conflict resolution training.

The first event, “Moving through trauma, finding resilience,” will be held at the WOW Hall on February 13.

Maher says their GoFundMe campaign goal is $100,000 and all funds will be dedicated to community healing efforts.

Six people were shot outside the WOW Hall building on West 8th Avenue in downtown Eugene during a rap and hip-hop concert. Maher said what happened has not changed their decision making regarding the music genres they book for shows.

“Artistic expression is supported and we won’t broad brush any genre. We do not support hate speech or violence or misogyny—that’s not something we’re going to stand for. On the other hand, we will continue to book a broad base group of performers. In addition to that we’re doing more dance classes and wider ranges of community programming.”

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WOW Hall
The WOW Hall (Community Center for the Performing Arts) was built in 1932, the most expensive building in Eugene that year at $8,000. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is a site for live music, dance, classes, community gatherings, health clinics and more.

She added they would like to see the venue used for more hours and more community activities. “The WOW Hall is the heart-felt center of our community-based culture. We are an historic venue with contemporary relevance, and we are moving forward,” Maher said.

The WOW Hall shooting suspect, described only as a man in a hoodie, remains at large. There is a dedicated tip line to call with any information on the mass shooting: 541-682-5162.

View a video from the GoFundMe campaign for the WOW Hall community healing efforts:
Fundraiser for Deborah Maher by WOW Hall : Community Healing (gofundme.com)