Frequently Asked Questions
Click on each question to learn more.
WILL THERE BE ANY PLAYS THIS SEASON?
Our season as initially planned has been definitively canceled to conserve cash and plan strategically for the future. However, we are thrilled to have received a surge of support, and the first stage of renovation to our theater is nearly complete. In Spring 2024 we’ll be occupying the new spacious lobby, activating it as our first performance space, bringing us home! We’ll be filling the new rough-and-ready performance space with a fun series of readings and events as soon as April 2024.
WHEN IS THE NEXT SEASON OF PLAYS?
Our goal is to produce plays again, and we’re preparing to do so next season (Fall 2024). We’re actively setting the stage for future work that will connect, entertain, challenge, and delight. To inform our visioning and selections we’re hosting a series of community conversations (Nov-Jan) to get feedback from our audiences, artists, and patrons on what matters most to them. We’re excited to make work again – to spotlight incredible talent, and to share our theatrical home with other artists through the ArtsHub, partnerships, and affordable rentals.
WHAT WILL THE LOBBY THEATER EXPERIENCE BE LIKE?
The spacious lobby venue will have new theater seating for 110 people; brand new restrooms, theatrical lighting and sound, and a new heating and cool system — everything you need to be comfortable and thoroughly entertained. This venue is temporary, however, and we will have technical limitations on the scale of production such as being limited to smaller casts and sets. Though we’ll still be able to create theatrical magic in the intimate space.
WHAT’S THE PROGRESS ON THE BUILDING RENOVATION?
Thanks to many generous donors and funders, we are set to complete the next phase of renovation in early 2024. The work began in April 2023, and will be a completely renovated, seismically sound, core & shell with essential interior features. Due to a generous recent donation from Mary and Tim Boyle, and a few other lead donors, the lobby performance space will become the first interior section of the building completed – along with two levels of parking, an elevator, and bathrooms! There is also a beautiful mural painted on the exterior of the building. This phase is a massive step towards the full completion of the project.
WHY IS THE RENOVATION NECESSARY?
The beloved ART building, which occupied a full block between SW Morrison and SW Alder Streets had come to its natural end of usability. There were many expensive and time-consuming maintenance and safety challenges that urgently needed to be addressed. These included chronic water damage from a very leaky roof, outdated and inaccessible facilities, failing HVAC systems, inadequate soundproofing, inefficient utilities, and a myriad of other hazards. The building was also not designed to be a theatre space and fell short of meeting the needs that our high-quality productions demanded. Low ceilings in the theater capped the height of sets and restricted design capabilities, for example. The decision to renovate was driven by the need to overhaul the building to improve health and safety, and by doing so to invest in a multi-use performance venue that can serve Portland’s theater community well into the future.
HOW WILL INVESTING IN THE BUILDING SUPPORT ARTISTS?
ART is dedicated to artist support and development and has held artists at the center of our work since the company was founded. By making essential upgrades to our space we are paving the way for this work to continue. The fully renovated theater will have a mainstage, studio, rehearsal hall, classrooms, and spacious lobby gathering space. All of these venues and resources will enable the building to be fully utilized on a daily basis. Our vision is to continue to produce a full season of plays and to share our resources with other companies and artists via the ArtsHub and affordable rentals. Not only will there be more capacity and appropriate facilities for theater to be made and employ many people — there will be space for classes, rehearsals, new work development, workshops, pop-ups …the possibilities are wide open for robust creative work to flourish.
HOW HAS MONEY BEEN SPENT FOR THE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN?
For those of you who have been a part of ART for many years, you know we’ve had significant struggles in getting to where we are today. Here is a summary of key turning points in recent years that have led to where we are now:
- In 2018, the company was hard-pressed to pay off an IRS lien filed for lapses in its payroll tax filings going back to 2012. Facing financial difficulties, ART made the decision to sell the north half of our property in order to stabilize finances.
- ART received a generous anonymous donation of $7.1 million that helped pay off the mortgage, debts, and back taxes, including half a million dollars in overdue bills to vendors, a line of credit, and credit card bills.
- ART earned $9 million for the sale of the north half of our property to Wood Partners, who subsequently developed Alta ART Tower, a 21 story mixed-residence designed to attract artists and art aficionados. We maintain a close partnership with this residence community.
- This sale seeded funding for our RISE Capital Campaign – and the vision for renovating our theater home. With our debts cleared and business flourishing, it was finally time to look towards a vibrant future.
- Phase I of our renovations required us to vacate the property so that the site could be prepared for future construction. This included moving the utilities, seismic upgrades, building a new stairwell, and the architectural design of the entire project. This cost $5.5 million. Additionally, the cost of being out of our space for 5 years was $1.4 million. (Office rental, venue rental, and cost of production outside of our home theater). We are also obligated to provide parking for Scottish Rite (located across the street from the theater), as part of a legal easement – and have paid $176,000 to date to meet this requirement while our parking garage was not available during construction.
- Phase II of construction began in April 2023 and costs $7.7 million, which includes a redesign/simplification of the project due to extreme construction inflation brought on by the pandemic, a completed lobby, parking, elevator, and bathrooms.
HOW MUCH MONEY IS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE WHOLE BUILDING?
We’ve successfully raised $25 million towards the full $31million for the project. $7 million remains to be raised, with current materials cost. We are so close!
HOW ARE YOU USING GRANTS AND DONATIONS?
Funds are being used to move all things ART onward! We are carefully stewarding all funds received to ensure that essential work is advanced. Our lean staff of six is working hard within flexible roles to meet the needs of the moment. We have reduced all monthly expenses to the necessary minimum and have monthly operating costs of about $70,000. Grants and donations cover these costs and seed the artistic programming we’re planning for spring 2024.
WHEN WILL YOU HIRE A NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR?
There are no immediate plans to hire a new Artistic Director. A significant part of our work this year, while plays aren’t being produced, is being dedicated to strategic planning for the near future. Before we decide on the leadership structure for ART moving forward, we are redefining our mission and values, stabilizing our budget, strengthening our board of directors, and completing the first phase of renovation. These are all essential to attracting and supporting future leadership. Our talented Director of Artistic Programming, Luan Schooler, and Artistic & Producing Associate, Melory Mirashrafi, are currently leading artistic programming.
WHAT DO I DO WITH MY UNUSED VOUCHERS OR GIFT CERTIFICATES?
If you have vouchers, hold on to them! We are removing expiration dates on all vouchers and they will be good to use indefinitely.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Consider making a donation to help us cover operational costs this season. We are participating in the Willamette Week’s Give!Guide again this year which could qualify you to be entered to win lots of amazing prizes or you can donate directly to us. Donations and grants are being used to support our general operational costs and any potential programming in the spring.
This FAQ was updated on 11/22/23