Eastern Oregon University > Current News > From Film Festivals to Community Hub: HQ’s Journey

From Film Festivals to Community Hub: HQ’s Journey

From Film Festivals to Community Hub: HQ’s Journey

Eastern Oregon University, Oregon’s Official Rural University and a cornerstone of eastern Oregon, is continuing the “Bridging Horizons: EOU’s Community Partnerships Spotlight” series. This initiative is a monthly showcase designed to highlight the collaborations between EOU and the diverse businesses and organizations in the region.

Christopher Jennings and Jesse Cimon stand outside HQ, a La Grande event venue. (EOU photograph/ Michael K. Dakota)

LA GRANDE, Ore. – In La Grande, a partnership between Eastern Oregon University (EOU) and HQ, a local event venue, is flourishing, embodying the spirit of community collaboration and mutual support.

HQ, initially established as a venue for the Eastern Oregon Film Festival, has evolved into a space hosting live music, performances, and community gatherings. Christopher Jennings, one of the founding partners of HQ, initially acquired the space in 2016 to develop it as a venue for film festival screenings, discussions, and after-parties. With the addition of Jesse Cimon, who joined the effort in 2017 to expand the business’ offerings and manage operations, HQ has grown into a multifaceted hub for cultural engagement.

Cimon and Jennings play pivotal roles in HQ’s day-to-day activities. They share responsibilities ranging from booking events to managing the bar and engaging with the community. Their collaborative efforts extend beyond HQ’s walls as they actively manage partnerships with various organizations, including Eastern Oregon University.

The partnership between HQ and EOU is built on a shared vision of enriching the local community and providing students with unique opportunities for engagement. HQ serves as more than just a venue; it’s a platform for student groups to host events like readings, club gatherings and dance parties.

“There’s no formal agreement, but we both understand the need to have the student body active in our downtown and creating safe and creative spaces has always been kind of a shared belief,” Jennings said. ”I think over the last few years, building this kind of individual partnership with different groups or clubs on campus, and different programs that can utilize the space, it does serve a variety of needs. This handshake effort to continue ensuring a clear pathway for students to get engaged downtown, culturally and socially, provides a place where they can be heard and seen.”

A premiere event, the Fat Tuesday concert, is held annually at HQ, the La Grande event venue that attracts art and music enthusiasts. (EOU photograph/ Michael K. Dakota)

While there may not be a formal agreement, Cimon emphasizes that the synergy between HQ and EOU is evident in their shared values and collaborative initiatives. “Recently, programs have used HQ for more academically focused events. For example, the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program was here for Lit Week last year, and all of the students who would be graduating got on stage to read their work. Additionally, every Thursday we host an open stage event, where we see many student performers.” 

Looking ahead, both HQ and EOU envision continued collaboration and growth. While HQ remains committed to its role as a cultural cornerstone in La Grande, EOU recognizes the economic and social impact of partnerships like these. By leveraging its strengths and resources, HQ and EOU aim to create a vibrant ecosystem that benefits students, residents, and visitors alike.

As La Grande’s cultural landscape evolves, the partnership between HQ and EOU exemplifies how collaboration between educational institutions and community organizations can foster innovation, engagement, and prosperity.

(EOU photograph / Michael K. Dakota)