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City Club of Eugene: A City for the Arts: The Arts Economy of Eugene

Mural painting of a female guitar player.
Alec Cowan
Afghan street artist Shamsia Hassani painted this mural on Willamette Street in Eugene as part of the 20x21 Eugene Mural Project.

Program date: Feb. 2, 2024

Air date: Feb. 5, 2024

From the City Club of Eugene:

In 2005, Eugene officially declared itself, “The world’s greatest city for the arts.” A few years later, recognizing that other cities may take umbrage at our boastful characterization, Eugene dialed it back to, “A great city for the arts.” Of that there is no dispute.

For generations, Eugene has been home to a thriving arts scene, one that not only makes our community more vibrant and livable, but also one that is an increasingly significant driver of economic opportunity and well-being.

Take a deep dive into the Arts Economy of Eugene with an expert panel of local leaders. Read the full report of the Arts and Business Alliance of Eugene as well as the proposed legislationmentioned in the program.


Kelly Johnson has served as Executive Director for the Arts & Business Alliance of Eugene since 2018.

She brings to her role a lifelong passion for the arts and over a decade of experience in nonprofit administration. She earned a BA in theatre from the University of Colorado at Denver and an MS in arts administration from the University of Oregon.

When not enjoying Eugene’s spectacular arts and culture scene, Kelly is curled up with a good book, taking a long walk around town, or cheering in the stands at a Ducks football game.

Josh Neckels was named Executive Director of Eugene Ballet in July 2016, after serving in numerous production, finance, and education roles for Eugene Ballet since 1996.

Since becoming Executive Director, Josh has led Eugene Ballet’s $6.8-million capital campaign for the design, construction, and purchase of the new facilities at the Midtown Arts Center. He has increased Eugene Ballet’s presence in Eugene from twelve performances in 2015-16 to a scheduled eighteen performances in the Hult Center for 2023-24, resulting in a 156% increase in attendance.

In addition to his work with Eugene Ballet, Josh has had a significant impact on many of the other local performing arts organizations in Eugene. He currently serves on the board of the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon.

Josh earned a BS in psychology at the University of Oregon.

Kari Westlund has four decades of experience in the hospitality industry, with the past 27 as President and CEO of Travel Lane County, marketing the Eugene, Cascades, and Coast region of Oregon. Kari is a past chair of the Arts & Business Alliance of Eugene, Cultural Services Advisory Committee, Oregon Tourism Commission, and Oregon Track Club.

She is currently serving on the national TravelAbility Advisory Board and the Destinations International Accreditation Board, along with local boards and committees. Kari is an outdoor adventurer, arts patron, and consumer of local food and beverage – all experiences abundant in Lane County.

About the City Club of Eugene:

The mission of the City Club of Eugene is to build community vision through open inquiry. The Club explores a wide range of significant local, state, and national issues and helps to formulate new approaches and solutions to problems. Membership is open to all, and Club members have a direct influence on public policy by discussing issues of concern with elected officials and other policy makers. The City Club’s mailing address is PO Box 12084, Eugene, OR 97440, and its website is cityclubofeugene.org.

Video and Broadcast

This program will be live streamed, and the videotape will be made available on the City Club of Eugene’s Facebook page and You Tube Channel, in addition to our website. It will be broadcast on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, at 7:00 pm, on KLCC 89.7 FM.

Contact: For more information, visit CityClubOfEugene.org.

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