This January, you voted in our readers’ poll and shared your favorite people, places, and spaces around Portland. And these are the organizations you voted as your favorite Performing Arts Companies. While many had to cancel shows and cut their seasons short, you can still experience some of the onstage magic at home.

And since Portland’s performing arts companies are facing challenging times, we’ve also included ways you can help them if you are able to.

Winner: Oregon Children’s Theatre (OCT)

From musicals based on favorite preschool books to deep examinations of our country’s history of racial discrimination, Oregon Children’s Theatre’s season always offers something for every family. In fact OCT is a repeat winner in this category.


Programming During Closure: While their curtains are closed, OCT has kept its social media buzzing. Both their Facebook and Instagram feeds are packed with great ideas for theater-loving families. You can find OCT’s own short videos of fun acting games, links to free recordings of live performances for kids, and theater-related educational opportunities, like turning American history into a play from the creators of Broadway hit Hamilton.

How You Can Help: Oregon Children’s Theatre is asking anyone who has ever enjoyed one of their performances over the last three decades to make a donation so they can continue serving our community.

Top 5

Echo Theater

Programming During Closure: Echo Theater Company was able to hire back several teachers thanks to the Payroll Protection Act and will be offering a range of virtual classes on a sliding scale this spring. Help your littles get their wiggles out with the Family Circus class or encourage kid aerialists to keep limber with the Strength, Flexibility & Technique class for kids 8-16. (And we love the “tiny stage” they built at their HQ just off of Hawthorne Boulevard for neighbors to show off their talents.)

How You Can Help:  A donation to Echo Theater will help them continue using movement and ensemble theater traditions, imaginative play, and aerial arts to help people of all abilities discover their potential, encourage perseverance and embrace their humanity. You can also purchase a class card or gift card to be used in the future, make a reservation for a party this fall, sign up for private lessons later in the summer, or shop for items in their RedBubble shop.

Northwest Children’s Theater and School (NWCT)

Programming During Closure: NWCT has been bringing it during self isolation. Associate Artistic Director, and all-around creative mastermind, John Ellingson leads super-fun daily video tutorials on how to make various puppets, do stage makeup,create balloon animals and much more. NWCT also has been providing entertaining 5-day challenges like “dance the decades,” and “Theater Games Thursday” acting prompts that are sure to lead to hilarity. You can also enroll your kids in their online classes.

How You Can Help: NWCT is asking theater fans to make a tax-deductible donation that will help NWCT continue to provide programming that is available, affordable, and accessible to all children. Families can also purchase tickets for next season’s lineup of kid-approved shows.

Oregon Ballet Theatre (OBT)

Programming During Closure: OBT is providing vibrant content through their website’s Connect with OBT @ Home tab. Teaching artists lead video storytime dances for kids, and artists also show you how to stretch like a dancer or build your own backyard barre. You’ll also find video clips from OBT’s sumptuous past performances and much more. 

How You Can Help: OBT remains committed to bringing joy and beauty to the world and are asking supporters to donate, so they can continue their mission. You can also subscribe to the 2020-2021 season which includes George Balanchine’s Nutcracker and Alice in Wonderland

Oregon Symphony

Programming During Closure: You can catch Associate Conductor Norman Huynh (beloved director of the Kids’ Concerts!) on Instagram asking Oregon Symphony’s musicians a question from fans. And do not miss the 1-minute music videos on their IG feed either. The symphony’s musicians take you inside their homes and perform a short piece — it will be the most sublime 60 seconds on your day!

How You Can Help: The period is probably the most challenging time in the Oregon Symphony’s 125-year history. They are asking for fans to donate and subscribe to the 2020/2021 season. They have packages for the series of joyful Kids’ Concerts and an amazing lineup of movie screenings (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, The Goonies, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!) accompanied by a live performance of the score. 

Portland’5 Centers for the Arts

Programming During Closure: On their Facebook feed, Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, which is the hub for the Keller Auditorium, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Newmark, Brunish and Winningstad Theatres, has been sharing videos from shows that had been canceled, like National Geographic Live!

How You Can Help: You can donate to the Portland’5 Foundation, which supports the Portland’5 Centers for the Arts Education Program.The program allows 12,000 students and teachers from Title-I schools to enjoy a diverse selection of world-class lectures and performances.


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