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Portland Playhouse To Lose Church Space?

Does staging plays count as "community service?" Local government has said no, meaning Portland Playhouse may lose its "home church" tomorrow. Read the Playhouse’s plea. submitted by Portland Playhouse

By Anne Adams February 29, 2012

The King Neighborhood Association and Portland Playhouse will be appearing before the City Council on March 1, 2012 at 3:30pm to appeal the Bureau of Developmental Service’s decision to not allow plays as a form of arts and community service. A nine-month application process culminated last month in BDS denying Portland Playhouse’s request to perform plays as part of their Conditional Use Permit for a Community Service Use. The Bureau allowed other components of the Playhouse application, but stated that “theater” can only be defined as a “Commercial, Retail Sales” operation.

The Portland Playhouse, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, currently leases the old church at 602 NE Prescott Street and has been an integral part of the King Neighborhood for the last four years, performing culturally diverse plays from playwrights such as August Wilson. Portland Playhouse also provides ongoing classes, workshops, a summer camp, and humanities programming as a community arts center. The Neighborhood Association maintains that the work of the Playhouse is Community Service Use rather than Commercial Retail Sales, and that it is vital towards promoting and supporting arts and culture within the King Neighborhood.

The City Council meeting will take place March 1, 2012 at 3:30pm at City Hall (1221 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, OR 97204). The King Neighborhood Association urgently asks community supporters and arts enthusiasts to attend the meeting at City Hall and voice your support to allow Portland Playhouse to continue as a vital and necessary resource for arts in the King Neighborhood. The application is supported by RACC, Oregon Cultural Trust, Creative Advocacy Network, and The Urban League as well as the King, Sabin, and Humboldt neighborhood associations.

“We believe that the programming and vision of Portland Playhouse falls into line with the mission of the Urban League, whose mission is to empower African Americans and others to achieve social and economic equity and justice.”
—Midge Purcell, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Urban League of Portland

“Portland Playhouse contributes significantly to the cultural and social experience of King residents. It would be a striking loss to our community if it was denied the opportunity to continue operating out of the old church building.”
—Alan Silver, Chair of the King Neighborhood Association

“It is their place in the neighborhood as much as the quality of their work that impressed the panel reviewers who recommended this theater company for a grant. Because they saw that the two were intertwined, the work needing to be done in the neighborhood and presented there, with the neighborhood giving rise to the work.”
—Kimberly Howard, Trust Manager, Oregon Cultural Trust

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