Congratulations to blues singer Cee Cee James, winner of the 2014 Rising Stars competition. South Stage Cellars and Britt, with the help of Jefferson Public Radio, presented the competition, in which 13 local bands competed for the opportunity to perform as an opening act on the main stage of Britt. All of the proceeds raised through this year’s competition will benefit the education programs of Britt Festivals.

Speaking of Britt’s education programs, this month I’d like to highlight a new education program that has been made possible through the generous funding of the Oregon Arts Commission and American West Bank.

After many months of hard work and detailed planning, I am pleased to announce that Britt will begin a new 12 month-long high school internship program named Arts Career Exploration (ACE). Rachel Jones, Britt’s Director of Education and Community Outreach, developed the program and looks forward to introducing our young ACEs around the Jacksonville community next summer.

As you might know, Britt already has a robust year-round internship program for college students. However, we lacked a high school internship program. So, the ACE program is a first for Britt, and is designed to connect underserved high school students to the work force by offering programs that engage students in the professional elements of an artistic/creative career field. Students served by the program will include English Language Learners, students with special needs, underrepresented minorities and students with low socio-economic status.

We are working with the Medford School District to implement this exciting new program, and are thrilled to have an opportunity to provide professional development experience for students who are often at a disadvantage in today’s competitive academic and work environment.

The ACE program will begin this spring, with 12 high school juniors and seniors from the Medford School District selected to participate. Over the course of year, the ACEs will job shadow, work with Britt staff, attend events and concerts, participate in discussions with community leaders, and complete projects that challenge them to build skills and articulate an artistic vision. The program will culminate in a performance that the students will produce in the Britt Performance Garden in June 2015. Guided by staff, the students will complete all steps required to bring the concert to fruition, including creating a budget, selecting and hiring guest artists, fundraising, marketing, house management and production for their event. Throughout the project, the ACEs will gain practical skills and knowledge that will make them more college and/or work force ready.

The Oregon Arts Commission grant is subject to matching funds. Donations will help cover transportation, supplies and expenses for the students, fees for guest speakers, costs associated with the student-produced event and staff time for a Medford School District Coordinator.

We are very excited about this program. If you would like further information about the ACEs or would like to make a matching contribution, please do not hesitate to contact Rachel Jones at

Comments or questions for Britt Festivals? Email Donna at

Posted March 28, 2014