Culture Club-Portland

“The arts are an essential part of a well-rounded education that prepares students for success in the 21st Century workforce”
-U.S. Department of Education

Through the generous support of an individual donor, Portland Stage has come together with the Portland Museum of Art, Portland Symphony Orchestra, and Portland Ovations to create Culture Club-Portland to advance arts education in our city. This consortium has the aspirational goal of providing free arts experiences to every child in Portland Public Schools, every year. Through Culture Club, we inspire students by providing regular access to the arts, building community, and making the arts a consistent part of students’ education. Culture Club-Portland is generously supported through the philanthropy of an anonymous benefactor, The Old Bug Light Foundation, and the Ernie Ayer Education Foundation.

At Portland Stage, we have developed a series of Education Programs tied to Common Core Standards that are designed to grow with students as they progress through all grade-levels. Thanks to Culture Club-Portland, Portland Stage donors, the Portland Education Foundation, the Maine Arts Commission, the Robert & Dorothy Goldberg Charitable Foundation, the Sam L. Cohen Foundation, and the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, we are able to offer these programs to Portland Public Schools at no cost to students or the schools.

To learn how the city of Portland is supporting Culture Club-Portland, see these articles in Old Port Magazine and The Forecaster

Offerings for Portland Public Schools:

PLAY Program (Grades K-4)

In grades K-4 PLAY brings childrens books to life through a school-wide performance, followed by interactive classroom workshops. The goal of PLAY is to connect theater with literacy by making literature performative and encouraging character recall, understanding of themes, emotional recognition, physical storytelling, and vocal characterization. We actively engage students in small groups/workshops using their bodies, voices, and imaginations to build understanding of the text while bringing the stories and characters to life.

Holiday Show (Grades 5&6)

In 5th and 6th Grades, Portland Stage connects students to more complex story structure by bringing students to the theater, often for their first professionaltheater experience. The visit is augmented by workshops, in their classrooms. Portland Stage has committed to including a cast of young actors in this production, so students see their peers on stage working alongside professional actors.

Directors Lab (Grades 7-8)

Professional teaching artists present a 45 minute version of a Shakespeare play, using original text edited to inspire and incite conversation among students. After the performance, students engage directly with the text in an interactive workshop with professional actors. In these workshops, students practice effective communication, creative collaboration, rhetoric, and critical analysis. Directors Lab puts Shakespeares language into the hands and mouths of the students, empowering them to be the artists, directors, and ensemble with the power to interpret the text and produce meaning.  

Student Matinees (Grades 9-12)

The goal of our student matinee program is to help students gain a deeper understanding of their own lives by connecting to productions that explore and mirror the world in which they live. Following the performance, students participate in a talkback with the cast and crew, which helps them gain awareness of the creative process and encourages them to think critically about the themes and messages of the play. All of the plays in Portland Stage’s season have 10:00am Student Matinee performances scheduled throughout the school year. Students see the same exceptional professional performances as our evening audiences. Teachers can download our resource guide PlayNotes in advance for background articles, information on the playwright, and lesson ideas aligned with the Common Core Standards.

All of these Portland Stage Education Programs are free once a year to every student in the Portland Public Schools through support from Culture Club-Portland, grant funding, and Portland Stage donors.  Follow the links above to the appropriate program and call/email us to make reservations and arrange dates.

For more information on Culture Club – Portland and its partner organizations click here.