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In Character: Pamela Hulse Andrews of Cascade Publications

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Pamela Hulse Andrews, CEO, Cascade Publications

Photo by Simone Paddock

The business of culture

A Central Oregon publisher sees the arts as an economic necessity.

By Abraham Hyatt

Sitting in her office, with two dogs at her feet and artwork covering the walls, Pamela Hulse Andrews smiles ruefully when she recalls what happened after the Oregon Business Plan’s annual blowout event this year, where lunch was punctuated with an arty presentation.

Everyone went home, she says, and forgot about the art.

It’s a sunny afternoon in Bend. The offices of Cascade Publications — the small Central Oregon publishing empire that Hulse Andrews, founder and publisher, has built over the last 14 years — sit in a quiet neighborhood. It’s a casual workplace. The dogs wander around until Hulse Andrews feeds them biscuits.

You can lobby for the arts, you can champion them, but some people still don’t see why they’re important, she says over the sound of crunching dog treats. “They only see it in terms of economic development: Big companies will move here if you have a symphony. But the creative industries have to have local arts to thrive.”

The arts are also big players in Oregon’s economic development. A recent analysis by the Washington, D.C., nonprofit group Americans for the Arts found that arts organizations and audiences in the greater Portland area spent more than $318 million in 2005. That supported more than 10,000 jobs and generated $26 million in revenue for local and state government.

Lately, a big-picture view of the arts has been on Hulse Andrews’ mind. In April, Gov. Ted Kulongoski appointed her to the Oregon Cultural Trust, the state’s private-public enterprise that raises money to support arts and culture.

As the blond, sharp-eyed woman talks about her new role, she spills over with the expected platitudes about how important art is: “We can’t stop talking about this. Our children need that creativity in their lives.” But she’s abundantly aware of how difficult it is to get the people and businesses that call Oregon home to give more than just lip service to arts and culture.

She thinks it’s going to need some smart marketing. Which just happens to be Hulse Andrews’ background.

A Kansas native, she moved west as a child (she gives her age as “in my 50s”), graduated from the University of Washington, headed south to Portland, had three sons, opened an ad agency and helped run Portland Mayor Bud Clark’s 1985 campaign. Following a brief detour to Long Beach, Calif., where she did more marketing work and wrote for a business magazine, she ended up as the editor of the now-defunct Central Oregon Business Journal in Bend in the early 1990s.

That didn’t last long. She got fired over differences in how the paper should be run. So she took as many staff members and advertisers with her as she could and, one $25,000 no-collateral bank loan later, launched what would become the company’s flagship newspaper, the Cascade Business News. The paper started in 1993, and though it was named the small business of the year in 2002, those first years were hard.

“When you own a small business, it’s lonely. From cash flow to who to hire and fire, even if you can call a friend or your CPA for advice, it’s all you,” she remembers.

Then came Cascade Arts & Entertainment and a few years later, Cascade Discovery. Seven years ago her son, Jeff Martin, joined the company. Two years ago she bought the 30-year-old Cascades East magazine, and this year introduced Prineville magazine.

And if a glossy magazine for Prineville sounds outlandish, Hulse Andrews points to the spate of high-end destination resorts being built in the area and says with a knowing smile, “No one just golfs all day.”

There was no master plan; one dream simply grew into another, she says. It doesn’t hurt that she thrives on, as she puts it, a little “creative insanity” in her life. When asked what her two other sons, who live in Portland, and seven grandkids think of her, she says with a laugh, “I think they’re extremely proud but that they also think I’m the craziest person. They pray their children won’t turn out like me.”

Crazy or not, she’s a founding member of Bend’s Arts, Beautification and Cultural Commission and sits on the board of the BendFilm Festival. In 2003, Kulongoski awarded her a Governor’s Arts Award. One of her favorite things is writing editorials for her papers. She wants to write a book and admits she occasionally wakes up in the middle of the night to scribble a few pages (she won’t give any more details).

And now with her appointment to the cultural trust, her arts and marketing experiences have formed a nexus. She sees art as an industry, so her first thoughts are centered around money, namely how to educate more people about the tax credit — up to $2,500 for corporations — that’s available by donating to the trust.

In fact, Hulse Andrews says that as long as the trust is able to raise as much money as it has in years past, she’ll be most happy if she can get people to recognize how economically powerful art and culture are.

“It’s all about how you tell the story. You know how you’re supposed to tell someone something three times if you want them to remember it? With this,” she says, “you’re probably going to have to tell them 10 times.”

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