Former Friends of Yampa Valley Arts director leaving snowy Steamboat for rainy Oregon
Scott Parker, former executive director of the local nonprofit Friends of Yampa Valley Arts — formerly Friends of the Chief — is trading snow for rain as he makes the move to Oregon. Parker recently took over as executive director of the Chehalem Valley Chamber of Commerce, a role he started in late August.
“My wife and I have been talking about the Pacific Northwest for a while,” Parker said. “It’s somewhere that we always wanted to live eventually. Like a lot of people during the pandemic, we started thinking about our options and this job popped out at me. It seemed like a good match for my skill set.”
Parker spent nearly a decade as the executive director of Friends of the Chief, a nonprofit that was run out of the historic Chief Theater downtown. He was hired in summer 2013 when the new nonprofit was formed to save the historic theater from being torn down or becoming, Parker noted, “a T-shirt shop.”
Parker booked events including music and films in addition to live theater performances by the local group formerly known as the Chief Players.
“I was surrounded by people who loved the performing arts and I loved my job,” said Parker. “It was an incredible run and a time of my life that I’ll never forget.”
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At the organization’s peak in 2019, over 200 events were held at the theater that year. It got to the point, Parker remembered, that acts were reaching out to him, asking to do performances at the Chief because they had heard about how great the crowd, theater and town was.
“For eight years, Scott Parker was the Chief Theater,” said Arty Smith who worked with Parker while organizing and promoting the popular songwriter series which brought in singer-songwriters to perform at the Chief each year. “He was the face of the organization, and it’s such an impact that he’s no longer here.”
Smith noted that Parker worked closely with his wife, Shannon, who did everything including, promotions, programming and publicity.
“She was really the No. 2 person in the organization,” Smith said. “To lose both of them is really a tremendous loss for us but a good thing for them.”
Smith currently sits on the board of the rebranded Friends of Yampa Valley Arts, an organization that Parker said is “on good financial footing” and has exciting plans to move forward. Due to recent partnerships with the Hayden Center and Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, the nonprofit is on track to provide programming and events for the entirety of Routt County.
In his new role, Parker will focus on business development for the chamber and growing membership which currently has over 260 members and incorporates three towns.
And even in Oregon, the Routt County ties are strong: Parker will be working closely with Dan Weinheimer who is the city manager for Newberg, Oregon, and who previously held the role of deputy county manager in Routt County.
“With my experience of running events, it was just a good fit for me,” Parker said. “It’s a nice change and a challenge that I’m looking forward to.”
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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