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Rebecca Maitland Honored For Downtown Heroics

August 16, 2014

Rebecca Maitland
Rebecca Maitland
VP-Creative Director

There was a very special presentation in the Reed Opera House recently honoring an individual who has been called “Miss Downtown” by the people she has helped, and for a cultural renaissance she helped shape.

Rebecca Maitland, VP-Creative Director of the Reed and other Roger Yost properties, was in the middle of staging one of her popular Third Saturday events when her boss suddenly interrupted her with a giant poster pictorially celebrating Rebecca’s 10 years with the company and thanking her for extraordinary achievements.

Poster

Yost told the assembled crowd (and his surprised associate) that the poster “contained only a few of the important highlights of the decade because most of her contributions to Downtown Salem were done quietly, and behind the scenes.

“She not only helped re-establish the Reed as the cultural heart of the city, but through art, music and recreating historic moments clearly benefitted our Downtown neighbors.

“When many storefronts were empty, dark and inviting danger, Rebecca rallied a lighting company, the Photo League and Artists in Action [AIA] to join her in creating presentations that filled the vacant spaces with artists and photographers and brightly lighted images that attracted crowds and discouraged criminal activity.

“She was the welcoming force in the Reed’s seven-year sponsorship of AIA’s ‘Something Red’ holiday event honoring area artists with a ballroom presentation of their submitted work, and a space for an annual awards party.

“She partnered with cinematographer Tim King to create and produce a DVD for the Salem Downtown Association that celebrated the history, architecture, culture and promise of our Downtown.

“Rebecca used costumed volunteers to creatively retell the Reed’s historical events – Susan B. Anthony’s speeches, the gamblers, Samuel Clemens on stage, and presidential visits.

“Her interest in Salem’s history led her to the exploration of Salem’s underground with college professor John Ritter, and the telling of its storied past.  This resulted in worldwide print and television coverage that not only ricocheted throughout the U.S. but to major media in China.

“She developed an event she called an “Imagination Expedition” with the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind [NFB] in which participants experienced tactile art and actually painted on canvas. “

Art Stevenson, president of the NFB Capitol City Chapter told the Business Journal: “Our chapter has been very fortunate to develop a friendship with Rebecca Maitland.  Her love of art, history and community has introduced our members to a world seldom experienced by the blind.  We are working with her to allow all blind Oregonians to share what Salem has to offer in art and history.”

Marilyn Krug, a past president of Artists in Action, had this to say about Ms. Maitland:
 “We met Rebecca while scouting possible venues for Artist in Action’s first ‘Something Red’ event. She didn’t just open the doors, she threw them wide open!  She dreams big.  She’ll take a good idea, and make it a great one!

Rebecca is like a muse with a magic wand. If she were a Disney character, she would be a cross between Tinkerbell  (without the pout) and Wendy from Peter Pan — spreading pixie dust of inspiration on everyone she touches, and with the wisdom and practical side of Wendy.  She not only inspires, but deftly creates and makes events happen.

“Her boundless enthusiasm is contagious. Countless artists, performers, musicians and the entire Salem Community have been enriched by her naturally positive energy.

“Over the years I’ve witnessed her mentoring young artists, successfully building bridges and networks to make the unimaginable happen. She is a creative spirit who is effective because she remains focused.

I’ve repeatedly seen her host a cacophony of simultaneous events.

“She is a good friend, a devoted mother, daughter, and simultaneously a muse and ringmaster. Few are those who truly can and do make a difference in the lives of people in a community. She is one remarkable lady!"

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