Portland’s arts scene is at a tipping point.
As one of iovation's resident rockers, I’ve developed a keen interest in Portland’s thriving local arts scene. It’s this interest that led me to join the Board of Directors at the Portland Opera. The arts are vitally important to communities both economically and as a catalyst for innovation.
“It's the arts that teach us how to think beyond boundaries and inventively overcome obstacles. When widely applied, the inherent concepts taught by the arts lead to monumental progress in every arena of life--from advances in medical technology to transformative public policy. As a foundation for practicing imagination, the arts are a critical ingredient to forward-thinking change,” noted Craig W. Johnson, Executive Director of The Center for Contemporary Dance in Florida.
This week I attended an OregonLive arts panel where, Isaac Lamb, an actor at Third Rail Repertory Theatre and creator of the viral "Lip-Dub Proposal Video," referred to Portland theater today as "on the verge of something fantastic... where Chicago was 30 years ago and Seattle 20 years ago." The number of theaters and volume of performances is exploding. Last count was 143 theaters. To experience performances from some of these companies, pay close attention to the Fertile Ground Festival which will be held January 22nd through February 1st.
Dance is another hot space in Portland, with companies such as White Bird, BodyVox, Oregon Ballet Theater and Northwest Dance Project, just to name a few. You'll see exciting things from the Oregon Ballet Theatre as their new artistic director mixes things up. It's also a very exciting time for the Portland Opera, celebrating its 50th Anniversary, and embarking on the 2014/15 season.
One of the many reasons for the arts boom in Portland is because it’s a city where artists can still live and support themselves. Real estate prices aren't as high as those of Manhattan, Los Angeles or San Francisco. The arts in Portland generate $152 million dollars in direct expenditures and $101 million in audience expenditures per year for a total of $253 million in economic impact.
Still, the arts will not thrive without the support of the community. The performances are there, brilliant and thought provoking, just waiting for us to take our seats. The opportunities are endless... from music, art museums, theater, opera, ballet, spoken word and much more. There is impactful work happening here in Portland. It's time that we, as an audience, take notice.