An amazing nexus of arts funding and addiction treatment

Portland film maker Brian Lindstrom visits with enthusiastic movie-goers after the screening of his documentary "Finding Normal" in 2007.

Portland film maker Brian Lindstrom visits with enthusiastic movie-goers after the screening of his documentary

From the Oregonian editorial board member Doug Bates, April 22 2009

If you’ve never seen “Finding Normal,” the critically acclaimed documentary by Portland film maker Brian Lindstrom, I highly recommend you check it out.

And only if you’ve seen it will you fully appreciate the little story Lindstrom shared with me recently. It’s just a little slice-of-life vignette, but it illustrates a powerful ripple effect generated by arts funding — something that’s very much on the chopping block during this down economy.

Also on the chopping block, especially here in shortsighted Oregon, is state funding for drug and alcohol treatment. There’s a surprising nexus between the two subjects, as Lindstrom makes clear in the note he sent my way:

I had a chance meeting last week that hit home to me the importance of funding both arts agencies and residential drug treatment programs. I was in Old Town on my way to a planning meeting at the Community Engagement Program where I’m doing a Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC)-funded film project that has me working with “dual diagnosis” folks (people with drug addiction AND mental illness) to guide them through the process of making a film about their experiences. I bumped into Dan Winters, who was profiled in “Finding Normal” (he was the white crack addict). Dan has more than 3 years clean, and is getting married April 24. He will soon begin a new job connecting Recovery Mentor Program graduates with jobs and housing.
Dan was handpicked for this job by Ed Blackburn, executive director of Central City Concern, who got to know Dan at Q and As following screenings of “Finding Normal” at Cinema 21, Living Room Theaters, Hollywood Theater, City Hall, Portland Development Commission, etc., and was very impressed with the way Dan handled himself.
Without a grant from RACC I wouldn’t have been able to make “Finding Normal.” Without “Finding Normal,” Ed wouldn’t have gotten to see Dan in action, and all the people who attended screenings wouldn’t have had a chance to see the person behind the label “addict.” And without the Recovery Mentor Program … you get the idea.
I think this chain of events is notable and demonstrates the far reach of art and the necessity of funding arts agencies and residential drug treatment centers.

I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks for shining a light on this ripple effect, Brian. Meanwhile, readers can check out Shawn Levy’s review of “Finding Normal” here.

— Doug Bates, associate editor;

EXTRA – Buy a DVD of Finding Normal at