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PLANNING for this project began in June of 2014 when former board member Bing Sheldon recommended Portland Playhouse to SERA Architects for a community give back opportunity. Visioning for the project and fundraising efforts began in September 2015, informed by meetings with key stakeholders like The Collins Foundation, The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation and other major donors. To ensure success of the project, we also hired a consultant to help us determine if our constituency had the capacity to support this project. At this early planning stage, we secured 100% board participation and several lead gifts, securing 25% of the total budget signaling to us that the project was feasible. The first phase of construction began in July of 2016 (new roof installed) and the remainder of the renovation/restoration will begin in March of 2017 and is scheduled to be complete by September 2017.


Co-Founder/Artistic Director Brian Weaver:  (206) 419-9190   |

Co-Founder/Managing Director Michael Weaver:  (540) 820-7847   |

Co-Founder/Education Director Nikki Weaver:  (213) 880-4241   |

Development Director Elena Hein:  (971) 533-8743   |


Board Chair Harold Goldstein:  (503) 744-0708   |

Treasurer Mark Williams:  (503) 471-4924   |

Development Committee Chair Kimberly Howard:  (503) 464-7349   |


Duncan Campbell, Ellyn Bye, David Greenberg, Angela Freeman (Board Member), Michelle Mark (Board Member), Katie Meeker and Vicki Guinn.



Portland Playhouse (PPH) is a vital community arts center in the heart of Portland's historic African American community: the King Neighborhood. To secure a successful future, we worked with Arts Consulting Group to develop a strategic plan for the next several years. Through the process, we established the following goals: 1) produce theatre that reflects and strengthens our unique artistic convictions; 2) build a leading education program focused on youth and emerging artists; 3) deepen relationships by welcoming a diverse audience to connect with our unique performance experience; and 4) build our infrastructure to meet the quality and capacity of PPH’s artistic and production standards and to support and sustain strategic action.

To meet the fourth goal above, our plan is to make our historic building and outdoor space shine as a King Neighborhood landmark serving audiences, artists and our community. Specifically, we plan to address critical issues of operational safety and public access by renovating/restoring our facility and building a new structure on the property to expand community events and education programs.

The Campaign’s scope and significance is great. Our building (110+ yr-old historic church) has been in disrepair for decades. Since 2008, we have DIY'd problems using Band-Aid and duct tape solutions. The roof leaked, the siding needs repair/paint and a sewage line needs to be replaced. We have inadequate heating/cooling systems, no insulation, insufficient office space and makeshift dressing rooms. And with only 2 single stall bathrooms, our longest intermission was 46 minutes! While many admire our work, our facility does not meet professional standards and we can no longer continue without addressing these issues. Our constituency deserves better and expects more. Renovations will dramatically improve the experience of those we serve, along with those who work at PPH. Additional bathrooms, professional dressing rooms and new heating/cooling/plumbing systems will not only have a positive effect on artists/staff/audiences, but energy efficient systems will save us money in the long run, too. With a new shop we will be able to build sets onsite, saving both time and resources. A new community gathering space/rehearsal studio will allow us to offer additional programming and increase the number of community events we are able to host. This project provides a solid foundation for our future in the King Neighborhood.


PHASE 1 (Summer 2014 - Fall 2017): Planning, fundraising

PHASE 2 (July 2016): New roof installed (COMPLETE)

PHASE 3 (March 2017 - November 2017): Renovation of the Playhouse building

PHASE 4 (October 2017 - August 2018): Construction of the new Studio and community gathering space

Existing church: Lower level gut renovation (professional dressing rooms, offices, restrooms/shower, artists commons, reception, meeting rooms); systems upgrade (HVAC, plumbing, electrical); upper level patron restrooms, lounge/concessions, restore historic bell tower/stained glass windows; wrap-around porch to make all entrances ADA accessible, repair siding and paint exterior.

New building: rehearsal hall/community gathering space; production shop; bathroom


Equipment: modular riser system, computer hardware/software, lighting/sound/video equipment

TOTAL BUDGET: $2,400,000
TOTAL RAISED: $1,952,473

TOP DONORS COMMITTED                                                                                                                                          

Ellyn Bye:    $250,000
State of Oregon:   $200,000
Raymond Family Foundation:    $100,000
Harold Goldstein & Carol Streeter: $100,000

We believe art and culture are integral to a healthy society. Investing in Portland's arts and culture community not only brings neighbors together; it drives innovation and economic growth. When done well, theatre can model for us a kind of public discourse that lies at the heart of democratic life; it builds our skills for listening to different sides of a conversation or argument and for empathizing with the struggles of our fellow human beings, whatever their views may be. We provide a home where it is safe to face our biases– a place that invites us to take an active role in shaping our complex society.

This project is critical to our ability to continue our work. We began PPH with two core values: inclusion and artistic excellence. We intentionally confront the real or perceived bias that theatre is for an elite audience. We believe that creative expression is for everyone and participation in creative experiences brings families, friends, and neighbors together. We are better able to understand each other's differences and increase our capacity for empathy. We are committed to bringing a voice to our diverse community through the arts.


  • We will raise $2,400,000 (in addition to our annual contributed revenue: $625,000/year).
  • The project will happen within budget and on time.
  • The campaign will help us increase our donor base. Our goal is to increase individual donors by 10%.
  • During and post campaign: 90%+ of student participant surveys will report that their experience with PPH was valuable.
  • During and post campaign: 70% of patron surveys will report that they learned more about an idea or perspective that they hadn't fully considered before.
  • When we survey stakeholders they will share with us that the improvements have made a positive difference.
  • Artists will be eager to engage with dynamic and supportive audiences (continuing to offer high quality performances) in a historic, beautiful and well-maintained space.
  • We will increase the number of community events (both hosted by PPH and rentals) by 50% in the first year. Over the following three years, we will scale up to meet the demand, with an anticipated 20-30 events per year.
  • Now is the time to invest in our building and fulfill our greatest potential. A safe and beautiful building will keep artists and audience coming back again and again. We want people to say, “What a great play, and what a BEAUTIFUL BUILDING. I can't wait to see what they do next!”  We will know we have succeeded when we have created a space that is inclusive and welcoming for all. We will measure success by reviewing our financials, tracking the number of patrons and students we serve and via surveys for staff, donors, patrons, artists and community stakeholders.

PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS: SERA Architects; Colas Construction; Joel Hamberg Painting; Clear Choice; Culver Glass; PAE; Geotech; and NE Coalition of Neighborhoods.

Note on Ownership:  In 2013, following the success of the "Save the Playhouse" campaign that resulted in City Council granting us a Conditional Use for Community Service (a first for an arts organization in Portland), the owner unexpectedly put the property up for sale. In response, a small group of supporters (current board chair Harold Goldstein, his wife Carol Streeter and the Playhouse founders’ parents Steve and Elsie Weaver) formed Playhouse on Prescott LLC and purchased the property. PPH now has a 30-year lease and rent is $2,000/month (with a 2% escalation per year).

Our contract with the LLC gives us an option to purchase the property at any time at the 2014 purchase price of $625,000. We chose to structure this project as a "leasehold improvement" rather than including the purchase of the building as part of the campaign. This choice allows us to maximize the impact of community funds in a way that is directly connected to our programming without the need to raise an additional $625,000.

The current lease is transferable (legally binding) to any potential buyer in the event that the LLC decides to sell the property. Furthermore, PPH has the right (binding and transferable to all/any future owners) to purchase the property at the 2014 purchase price of $625,000 at any time during the 30-year lease. The lease is recorded on public record at the courthouse, which is an additional protection that puts the world on "notice" of the terms of the lease. We have created a strong contract to ensure the investment stays with the community.


A portion of the project budget (7.5%) is dedicated to "working capital/maintenance reserve." This will allow us to plan for the unexpected and ensure we are on stable financial footing when the project is complete.

We are also investing in the tools we need to cultivate relationships, which in turn will increase individual revenue in subsequent years. Before the project began, we were using Arts People, ticketing software that also tracks donations, but it is not a CRM database. In the fall of 2015, Fundraising Nerd was hired as a consultant to support the campaign and to prepare us for the future. We purchased an annual membership with Donor Search to identify major donor prospects and launched a new CRM database (Little Green Light) to track pledges and manage relationships for the campaign. LGL does not handle box office activities, so in the winter of 2018 (prior to selling season subscriptions) we will migrate to Patron Manager, which is a ticketing and CRM database solution that will enable us to better serve our constituents.

The renovation/restoration will actually lower our overall operating costs in the following ways:

  1. The building itself will be more energy efficient, lowering utility bills and minimizing the impact of adding an additional building to the property.
  2. We will be able to build on-site rather than renting space to build sets.
  3. We will have on-site storage space, cutting rental and transportation costs.
  4. We will be able to retain talent – both staff and artists – with a satisfactory work environment, which
  5. saves both time and resources.
  6. We will have the ability to rent or donate the artist/community gathering space for special events.

Staff and board conduct multi-level fundraising efforts – cultivating foundations, corporations, small businesses, major donors, individuals and government support. We have established a solid development committee (chaired by PGE Foundation Program Officer & PPH Board Member Kimberly Howard and comprised of board members and volunteers), which is charged with helping create effective strategies to accomplish our fundraising goals. We recognize that long-term viability depends on a healthy mix of revenue streams, with care taken not to become too dependent on any one source of revenue. We have steadily increased our donor base, a result of hard work and a true affinity for what we do. Our finances are monitored throughout the year and reported to our board on a quarterly basis.