Our Mission

The leading professional theater in Northern New England, Portland Stage is committed to creating great art, passionate about using the theater to educate, and dedicated to enriching our community.

Portland Stage:

  • Produces exceptional live theater.
  • Demands the highest professional standards and transparency throughout the organization.
  • Inspires new artists and audiences and fosters experimentation and artistic risk.
  • Creates innovative educational programming for thousands of students and teachers, as well as audiences of all ages.
  • Adheres to the highest standards of fiscal responsibility, while engaging dedicated long-term donors to provide a stable financial base.
  • Adapts and improves systems, resources and facilities in support of artistic excellence.

Historical Overview

In 1973, a group of actors came together with a shared goal of creating a theater, one that produces compelling plays through artistic collaboration. Along the road together, this artistic journey led to the creation of a non-profit professional theater. Like the plays we produce, Portland Stage started as an idea and matured through major challenges by remaining true to its collective vision: to present illuminating plays that challenge, inspire, and reflect. Portland Stage is passionately committed to being a vital partner in the fabric of our community by building relationships through hard work, transparency, collaboration, and education. In 1990 we launched the Little Festival of the Unexpected as a way to showcase and develop new work. In 1998 Artistic & Executive Director Anita Stewart decided to strengthen our commitment to new work by partnering with the Clauder Competition, ensuring that every three years Portland Stage would produce a new and exciting play by a New England playwright on our Mainstage. Most recently, in 2010, we strengthened our Education Programs by opening our Theater for Kids space which houses our Play Me a Story programs, Summer Camps, and more.


Anita

Read about Anita Stewart, our Executive and Artistic Director in Portland Magazine.

Values and Vision

Values

Our work is always evolving to stay relevant. We are entrepreneurs, innovating, asking questions, cultivating and incubating. From artists to audience, from long time subscribers to interns and students, our productions, as well as our education and artistic programs, continually evolve to meet the needs of our constituents, thus remaining relevant to our community.

Our work engages, connects and builds understanding. Through the intimate, personal exchanges that happen through live theater and hands-on programs, we help to shape our community and build greater understanding of the “other.” We interpret and share stories from around the world to better understand ourselves and our place in the world.

Our work is created in our community for our community. Building productions from the ground up, we combine the best local talent with artists from around the nation bringing our community into the process and building lasting relationships as a result. Our artists actively engage with students and the broader community.

Vision

As a leading arts institution in our state, Portland Stage is a hub of creative activity. Our community takes pride in the theater and actively engages in its wide range of first-rate productions and transformative programs. Our nationally known, innovative education programs are built with the same rigor as our professional productions. Acknowledged as a gem by the field, our productions attract outstanding artists as well as a diverse audience, while our artistic programs incubate new work and inspire new artists. Our open and inviting building allows artists and audiences to connect around the work which is relevant to the community in which we live and sparks discussion and dialogue. We have strong financial underpinnings, an effective staff and Board which allow continued innovation and improvement. We are transparent in our objectives and collaborate with other like-minded institutions.

Statement of Solidarity and Racial Equity

Our country is reeling. While a pandemic has seismically changed our communities, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery confront us with the unending issue of racism that has plagued our country since its founding. Portland Stage mourns these tragic deaths—deaths that have been added to the all too many who have been abused or killed because of the color of their skin— and as an organization, we must face head-on the unjust, violent, unequal treatment of Black people in America. We must acknowledge our role in the problem, and we must work for positive change to the system. 

Theater is about inclusivity; it is about walking in another person’s shoes, it is about building community. As such, the board and staff of Portland Stage must affirm that Black Lives Matter and that at Portland Stage, we continue to grow in understanding and lean into this truth. We must stand shoulder to shoulder with Black artists, staff, board, audiences, students, teachers, and members of our community to say no more to white hate, no more to white indifference. 

Portland Stage must fight against racism and oppression both inside and outside our theater. We need to look within, to make sure that we are living our beliefs and working to dismantle the systemic racism and oppression that is our country’s legacy. We must play our part in righting this wrong. As Sarah Bellamy of Penumbra Theatre Company in this beautiful American Theatre article articulates:

 “Rather than white people feeling like, ‘How can I hold space for people of color?’ I want them to call other white people into their spaces and say, ‘We need to talk.’ Now more than ever, we need white folk to get their white folk.”

As a predominately white theater company in Portland, Maine, we need to educate ourselves and invite our community to join us as we seek to find ways to help change our world and learn to practice anti-racism. This must become part of our Strategic Plan. At our Annual Meeting in June, we will add this call to action to our Plan and set aside time to discuss the positive actions that Portland Stage can take.