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sff presents established in 1995 as sisters folk festival

A nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening community and transforming lives through music and art.

For more than 28 years, SFF Presents has provided rich, energizing opportunities for adults and youth alike to listen, discover, learn, and create community through shared artistic experiences.

 

Beyond delivering world-class live music, our broad array of experiential programming unleashes the universal power of the arts to unlock our full potential as individuals and as a collective. 

 

As we transition the name of our organization from Sisters Folk Festival, Inc. to SFF Presents to better capture the breadth of our mission and programs, we will continue to promote innovative, diverse music and art throughout Central Oregon while keeping the livability and economic vitality of our beloved community at the forefront of all that we do.  

About: Youth Educaton

MUSIC & ART EDUCATION

SFF Presents offers year-round educational opportunities to over 1,188 students in grades 5 - 12 through our programming. 

  • The Americana Project at Sisters High School

Founded in 2000, the Americana Project is an innovative music and arts education program with broad community outreach. This elective music class at Sisters High School provides students with an outlet for creative self-expression, including guitar playing, writing songs, performing, and recording. Students have an opportunity to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through the lens of an artist. Under the direction of SHS teacher Rick Johnson, students build an appreciation of American roots music and the social significance of folk and roots music. These young artists are introduced to the science and art of audio engineering and have the opportunity to work with local engineers to record their original songs. For 23 years, students have recorded original songs and performed locally at key events. In 2023, students recorded the EP, “This is Our Home,” marking the 18th recording by Americana Project students. Participating students may also be given a scholarship to attend the Americana Song Academy and be invited to perform at the Sisters Folk Festival each year.

  • The Luthier Program at Sisters High School

One of only two instrument-building programs in public high schools in the United States, the SHS Luthier Program inspires young people to learn the age-old craft of guitar building. The program was founded by engineering/woodworking teacher Tony Cosby and luthier Jayson Bowerman (Bowerman Guitars) who wanted to share the craft of guitar building with young people. SFF Presents has helped support the program in partnership with the Sisters Schools. The process takes the students 24 weeks, starting their instruments in the fall and winter and finishing them in the spring. Students tackle the challenge of exploring the science behind what makes a guitar sound great, the art and craft of construction, and the engineering and woodworking skills required to build a handmade instrument. Students choose their tone wood and create their own rosette and headstock design. The workshop includes industry-standard equipment for students to create their instruments and learn the diligence necessary to complete the instrument. By year’s end, they have a beautiful heirloom-quality instrument to take home. Approximately 30 guitars are produced by students at SHS each year. Over 470 handmade guitars and 170 handmade ukuleles have been made by students since the program began. The class is currently taught by Jason Chinchen, the Engineering/Woodworking instructor at Sisters High School. It is a collaborative effort between SFF Presents and Sisters School District, with ongoing support from Breedlove Guitars.

  • The Creativity Club at Sisters Middle School

Led by SMS art teacher (and SFF Presents board member), Judy Fuentes, this after-school program provides a safe place for self-expression at no cost to participating students. Fuentes explores color, design, shape, and form while utilizing multi-media supplies to create art that is displayed throughout the school and celebrated in an arts showcase in the winter trimester.

  • Beginner and Continuing Outlaw Strings Club

Led by SMS science teacher and fiddler, Melissa Stolasz, this extracurricular music program is a hit with the middle schoolers and has grown so much there are now two sessions for more than 40 beginner and intermediate students. This club meets before and after school. Students learn tunes, jam with friends, and practice their instruments. There is no cost to students to participate, and SFF Presents even provides loaner instruments. Additionally, Steven Livingston, music teacher at SMS, shares his love for guitar playing with interested students. They learn to play and provide accompaniment to the fiddlers as they perform traditional old-time, Scandinavian, and Appalachian fiddle tunes. On special occasions, these young performers have opened SFF Presents events and even played alongside touring acts!

  • Summer Creativity Camps at Sisters Art Works

Find out more and enroll

SFF Presents partners with regional teaching artists to create these fun-filled sessions of art, music, theater, and self-expression at Sisters Art Works. Camps include a week-long theater arts camp, acoustic music camp, and visual arts camps that explore creativity, self-expression, and music. Each of our camps are offered with pay-what-you-can pricing to ensure no one is excluded from participating due to financial barriers.

  • Americana Project Scholarship through Sisters GRO

Sisters GRO is an independent non-profit that partners with local organizations to ensure access to higher education for all SHS graduates. Each year we offer Americana Project scholarships to graduating seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to and participated in SFF Presents programming. Qualified applicants receive at least $2,500 to attend the college/university, career training program, or arts institution of their choice. Learn more at https://sistersgro.awardspring.com/Home/Scholarships

  •  Residencies with visual and performing guest artists

Throughout the year, SFF Presents brings national, regional, and local guest artists into classes grades K-12 to mentor students and share their craft. Students gain insight into the creative process, life as an artist or touring musician, business practices in the arts, job opportunities, and everything in between. Past guest artists in the schools include: Robin & Linda Williams
• Ruthie Foster •
Willy Porter •
The White Buffalo •
Chris Smither •
Steep Canyon Rangers • Ron Artis II & the Truth
• The California Honeydrops
• Josh Ritter
• Keith Greeninger & Dayan Kai
• Christone “Kingfish” Ingram
• Las Cafeteras
• Dustbowl Revival
• Molly Tuttle •
Martyn Joseph
• James Hill & Anne Janelle
• Steve Poltz
• Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers
• Abigail Washburn & Kai Welch
• Victor Johnson Trio •
Joe Craven •
Bob Hemenger
• Moira Smiley and VOCO
• One Beat International Artists • Foghorn String Band
• Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms
• Thunderstorm Artis
• Heather Maloney
• Darlingside
• T Sisters •
The Bills
• Peter Mulvey •
Kuinka
 • Ellis
• John Craigie
• The Shook Twins
• The Stray Birds
• The Ballroom Thieves
• The East Pointers
• The Goodtime Travelers
• The Novel Ideas
• David Jacobs-Strain
• Laney Jones & the Spirits
• Kaia Kater
• Trevor Green
• Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons
• Misty River •
We Banjo 3

• The Accidentals •
The Biscuit Burners
• Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs •
Humbird
• Handmade Moments
• Elias Alexander
• Heron Valley
• Telmary y Habanasama
• Hubby Jenkins
• Phoebe Hunt & the Gatherers Mary Gauthier Making Movies
• Sweet Water Warblers
• Dennis McGregor •
Brent Alan
• Beth Wood
• Jenner Fox
• Laura Campbell • Gary Hirsch • Mosley Wotta • Recycled Percussion • Martha Redbone • Susie Zeitner • Valerie Wells • Dale Largent

  • Sisters Folk Festival’s KidZone

Introduced in 2022, the free SFF KidZone includes live musical performances, face painting, interactive art activities, a community dance for people of all ages, and even a guest appearance by Smokey Bear. The event takes place at Fir Street Park and is open to the public – no wristband required. Attendees can make their own SFF-branded t-shirts, ribbon wands, and buttons, and dance along to family-friendly music for some good old-fashioned community camaraderie.

  • Studio to School Program

The Studio to School initiative was a 5-year, $280,000 grant through the Oregon Community Foundation that allowed SFF Presents to partner with the Sisters School District in implementing sustainable music and arts education programming for grades K-8. SFF Presents used the grant funds to: • Purchase a general music keyboard/piano lab with 16 keyboards at SMS • Acquire 20 Fiddles & 6 Cellos for the Outlaw Strings Program • Purchase music gear including drum kit, bass amp, and new PA for Sisters Elementary and Sisters Middle Schools • Purchase 20 iPads for a digital storytelling lab • Hire a visual arts teacher at SES and SMS • Provide professional development for teachers and establish a core team of teachers, administrators, and community advocates for a 5-year period • Introduced multiple artist residencies and guest artists to mentor and teach students • Provide field trips and special programming in theater, music, and visual arts

CONTINUING EDUCATION

Music and art education for learners of all ages.

  • The Americana Song Academy at Caldera

Each year we invite a handful of artists from the upcoming Sisters Folk Festival to teach at a 4-day immersive camp hosted at the performing arts camp Caldera, set on mystical Blue Lake high in the Cascade Mountains. More than 50 participants of all ages have an opportunity to take master classes on songwriting, arranging, singing, and to gather in community with professional musicians. The musical retreat inspires people to express themselves creatively and support one another’s artistic aspirations. Song Academy participants receive 1:1 mentoring sessions, attend instructor-led workshops, enjoy instructor performances, and share their music in intimate song circles and open mic performances. With exceptional food, a beautiful location, and a unique, intimate experience, the event continues to be highly anticipated and sells out months in advance each year.

  • Songwriting, instrument, and bluegrass courses

Through our diverse programming, we provide exciting opportunities for people to listen, discover, learn, and create community through shared artistic experiences. SFF Presents hires local and regional artists to teach courses that are accessible to learners of all ages and skill levels. Current offerings include a 5-week Songwriting Workshop with poet, songwriter, and performer Beth Wood; and a 6-week Wood and Steel Bluegrass Class with music educator and professional musician, Joe Schulte. In years past, we have also produced Sisters Songworks, an intimate weekend retreat celebrating and exploring the art of poetry and songwriting under the guidance of multiple instructors. These classes are often offered with Pay What You Can pricing to ensure no one is excluded from participation due to financial barriers.

  • Visual arts workshops at Sisters Art Works

We foster artistic expression in all its forms and the visual arts are no exception. Sisters is home to a rich community of talented artists, providing us with a deep pool of instructors to pull from. Renowned painter, Paul Alan Bennet recently taught an intimate, single-day painting class at Sisters Art Works, instructing students on technique and developing their unique artistic perspectives. Stay tuned for more classes to be announced.

LIVE MUSIC EXPERIENCES

Bringing world-class musical talent to Sisters, Oregon since 1995. 

Founded in 1995 and with 26 years of unforgettable festivals behind us, Sisters Folk Festival is where a small town, friendly vibe meets world-class musicians and production in a picturesque setting. We’re proud to present high-profile and up-and-coming artists, songwriters, and bands at seven intimate venues, including expansive tents, a historic church, and courtyard venues at local restaurants. The Sisters Folk Festival has a long-standing history of cultivating a listening atmosphere and providing venue spaces where people are free to move to the music. Attendees can expect a unique and transformative festival experience beyond fantastic live music. The 2024 festival will take place on September 27 - 29. Tickets are available at SistersFolkFest.org and will sell out in advance.

Our newest endeavor, Big Ponderoo is a two-day music and art festival featuring lively bluegrass, alt-country, and Americana music at the Three Creeks Brewing production facility. Attendees of Big Ponderoo can take in breathtaking views of the Three Sisters mountains while they experience a festival reminiscent of the days before the corporate music monopoly swept the industry – an event where folks can enjoy incredible live performances in a friendly, laid-back environment for a warm and personal festival experience. Tickets available at BigPonderoo.com

  • Summer Concerts at Sisters Art Works

Presenting multi-genre concerts at our beautiful backyard venue at Sisters Art Works in July and August. With a capacity of 800, these concerts have an intimate feel. Bring your low-back chairs, a blanket, and your dancing shoes (if that's your vibe!) and enjoy an up-close and personal live music experience with incredible artists. Past performers have included: Watchhouse • Sierra Ferrell • Madison Cunningham • Rising Appalachia • The Brothers Comatose • Rainbow Girls • Tim O'Brien

  • Concerts at The Belfry

This beautiful 1914 church turned music venue is a centerpiece of the Sisters community. We're thrilled to be able to present cozy, indoor concerts in this space in the colder months with artists like Charlie Parr, AJ Lee & Blue Summit, Jake Blount and more

  • Free Community Celebrations

SFF Presents live-music experiences are thoughtfully priced to allow access to as many people as possible, but we know that any ticketed event can exclude members in our community. For that reason, we make it a priority to offer admission-free events several times a year. These events include the beloved Sunday morning Community Celebration at the Sisters Folk Festival, the Friday night Community Celebration ahead of the Big Ponderoo festival weekend, the Sisters Hometown Hang featuring regional performers on stage at Sisters Art Works, and family-friendly performances at the free KidZone on Saturday of the Sisters Folk Festival.

VISUAL ARTS

Supporting the vibrant visual arts culture in Sisters and beyond. 

  • The Cindy and Duncan Campbell Gallery at Sisters Art Works

SFF Presents finalized the purchase of the Sisters Art Works Building in December of 2019, completing a two-year, $1.4 million capital campaign that included upgrades and additions to our home office and site of our largest festival venue. Two of the largest contributors to the campaign were Cindy and Duncan Campbell, who are well-known in Oregon for their philanthropic efforts as founders of Friends of the Children, a nationwide organization dedicated to breaking the generational cycle of poverty. The Campbells see their support of Sisters Folk Festival as consistent with their giving. Located inside of SFFP’s home site, the Sisters Art Works Building, the gallery was dedicated the “Cindy and Duncan Campbell Gallery” in the fall of 2020. The gallery features rotating displays from local and regional visual artists. We’re proud to offer this space as a low-pressure, zero-fee environment for artists to show and sell their work. The gallery is one of many featured in the monthly Sisters 4th Friday Art Walk.

  • The Ponderoo Arts Experience

The Ponderoo Arts Experience is a free celebration of creativity and community, weaving visual arts and music together to kick off the festival weekend. The evening includes a sponsored art walk, live music, food and drinks, and hands-on creative opportunities for all ages. Participants are encouraged to grab a Ponderoo Passport and visit each of the participating galleries to earn a stamp. Completed passports can be turned in at Sisters Art Works for a special “Little Ponderoo” art piece created by local artists.

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