Ray Solley at the Tower Theatre
Ray Solley is the Executive Director of the Tower Theatre Foundation (TTF), a nonprofit organization that owns and operates the historic theatre in downtown Bend, Oregon. The Foundation promotes, programs, raises funds for, and rents the renovated Art Deco Moderne venue for a wide variety of performing arts events and organizations.
Since Ray was hired in April 2009, the Tower:
• established a four-month operating reserve fund
• raised its membership and volunteer numbers to record highs
• increased theatre usage and attendance
In November 2010, the Foundation received a capacity-building grant from Oregon Community Foundation—the largest single amount awarded the Tower since its renovation in 2004.
In 2011, Solley launched an educational outreach initiative called LessonPLAN (Performing Live Arts Now). Fueled by donations to the Stover Fund, the Tower enhances school curriculum and literature-based studies by bringing performing artists from around the world to the theatre and into Central Oregon classrooms. In 2012, LessonPLAN reached 3,500 students and families, receiving the Arts, Beautification and Culture Award for “substantially contributing to Bend’s culture.”
Ray has invigorated the Tower, bringing the world’s best performers to the Bend Surgery Center’s “CenterStage Series,” and showcasing the finest community theatre productions in the “Marquee Series,” sponsored by BendBroadband.
Solley moved to Bend after 26 years in Southern California. From 2005-2009, he was Executive Director of the Torrance Cultural Arts Center Foundation, overseeing all programming, marketing, fundraising, and day-to-day operations of the nonprofit.
The diverse acts and personalities Solley has brought to Torrance and Bend include:
Ed Asner, Spike Lee, Martin Short, Jo Dee Messina, Rita Moreno, Molly Ringwald, Peking Acrobats, Vienna & Moscow Boys Choirs, Hector Elizondo, Mariachi Divas, Celtic Tenors, Tower of Power, Peter Yarrow, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Geraldine Ferraro, B.D. Wong, Cheech Marin, Free Flight with James Walker, Rita Coolidge, Leon Russell, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Turtles….even Elvis.
From 1995 to 2001, Solley was the primary agent responsible for packaging and sales of programs to basic and pay cable networks for the William Morris Agency. He negotiated and sold a wide variety of cable’s earliest landmark shows, including:
South Park (Comedy Central)
Bug Juice and Cheetah Girls (Disney Channel)
Eddie Izzard’s Dress to Kill (HBO)
Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood (Nickelodeon)
Surprise Gardener (HGTV)
Before moving to Los Angeles in 1983, Solley spent seven years at WTTW, the public television flagship in Chicago, developing and producing the series that re-defined the way a generation learned about movies and made media heroes of film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert—Sneak Previews.
Ray’s first job in Hollywood was as Talent Coordinator for The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He then joined Paramount Television overseeing all aspects of Entertainment Tonight. The CBS Television Stations hired Solley to supervise their group-produced specials for national and international syndication. The Samuel Goldwyn Company next recruited Solley as Vice President of Development, where he established Goldwyn’s first-run programming division, launching their first daily strip (Body by Jake) and pop culture phenomenon, the original American Gladiators. Ray was profiled in the book Creating Television: Conversations with the People Behind 50 Years of American TV, by Rutgers Professor Robert Kubey (Erlbaum, 2003).
Solley is on the board of Arts Northwest, the steering committee of Bend’s Arts and Culture Alliance, the advisory board for Cascade A&E magazine, and ex-officio member of the Deschutes County Historical Landmarks Commission.
His wife Michelle is a member of the Assistance League of Bend, regional sales rep for Original Works student art fundraisers, and a teacher at Arts Central. Son Matthew is a sophomore at Summit High and a left-handed pitcher for Storm Baseball. Daughter Allison is a senior Education major at Central Michigan University.
835 NW Wall Street
Bend, Oregon 97701
Ray's Bio -_October 2012