Portland Playhouse and the role of the arts

The home of Portland Playhouse on NE Prescott St./Neighborhood Notes

One of the central tenets of ArtsWatch is that the arts are absolutely critical to the functioning of society, especially a democracy, that they give us a sense of ourselves and our past leading up to the present, and an inkling of what our possibilities for the future might be.

As such they are a critical “service” for any society, a safe place where our competing descriptions of our lives together can be examined and shared and our aspirations for the future expressed. That’s why we oppose the decision by the City of Portland that a non-profit theater company, Portland Playhouse, is a “commercial” enterprise, not a public “service.”

That decision threatens to force the company out of its home in a church in Northeast Portland, despite support from its neighborhood organization. Fortunately, there is an appeal process, and tomorrow, March 1, the case will be heard in front of City Council at 3:30 p.m. in City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave.

We hope that the rest of the arts community will support Portland Playhouse’s position, not just because the company is an important part of our cultural fabric but also as an expression of the idea that the arts ARE a public service and that the role they play in the society is irreplaceable.

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