Emily Adair
The La Grande Observer

La Grande Main Street Downtown has a new executive director, and he’s eager to contribute to the downtown community.

“I’ve been really enthused,” Chris Hooper said of his new position. “I’ve even had to pump the brakes a little since I’m still getting my bearings.”

Hooper, whose first day was Oct. 18, said he’s had a lot of help from a former executive director, Alana Garner.

“We’ve been working together,” Hooper said. “There’s still a lot for me to learn.”

Although there are many components to Hooper’s job, he believes arts programming may be the key to the organization’s continued success.

“I think economic development is absolutely paramount, but we also need to integrate arts into the community,” he said. “Community events bring eyes and ears downtown, regardless of the genre or style (of the event).”

Hooper, who has a background in music and acting, is finishing his bachelor’s degree in theatre at Eastern Oregon University.

“I actually went to school for about three years when I was in my early 20s, but I started to get burnt out. I took some time off, and that turned into 10 years,” he said.

In addition to his arts background and interests, Hooper has experience with event organization and promotion. As a musician, Hooper has worked to promote shows regularly in the past.

“Most recently, I was involved with Eastern Oregon Film Fest,” he said. “The planning for that was mostly done already, but I helped where I could.”

Hooper said he was in charge of transporting the movies themselves to where they needed to be, generally on flash drives.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer