Portland Opera To Go Educational Outreach

by Portland Opera
Dec 1, 2011

Portland Opera To Go!

Portland Opera to Go (POGO) brings the power and joy of opera, along with in-school artist residencies, to young people across Oregon during a 10-13 week winter tour.   As an extension of our mission to “celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera,” POGO brings a classic 50-minute English language opera adaptation suitable for grades 1 through 8.  

The 2012 season will feature a production of Engelbert Humperdinck’s classic romantic-era opera, Hansel and Gretel, along with in-school residencies featuring four professional singers, a piano accompanist, and tour manager.  Anticipated tour dates will be January 9 through April 6, 2012.  Anticipated costs of this program are $185,144. Your gift will help us increase access from 10 weeks to up to a 13-week tour during the 2012 season.  

In addition to the opera, POGO also offers Opera Improv, an interactive program that introduces the elements of opera in a “create your own adventure” format.  This interactive program is utilized by classes that do not attend the performance and other community groups.  The improvisational nature of this program allows it to be adapted for all ages, including adults.

Portland Opera to Go is also more than just an in-school performance or classroom workshop.  Multidisciplinary study guides for year-round coursework accompany each production, providing teachers with little or no formal arts training with tools to help them include the arts in their daily classroom curriculum.  Crafted based on Portland Public School guidelines, these include science, language arts and math lesson plans for teachers and worksheets for students.  These materials are provided to schools at no cost, and were used by 90% of teachers last year.  The current 2011 POGO study guild has been included with this grant application.

Portland Opera to Go also reaches beyond schools.  So many communities in Oregon have little access to affordable family-friendly fine arts programming.  To serve this population, POGO touring artists perform community benefit concerts, reaching thousands of people of all ages.  This past season, under a new partnership with McMenamins, POGO performed free family concerts in eight McMenamins' venues across Oregon and SW Washington, expanding our outreach to an additional 2,500 people.  Attendance and audience feedback to these concerts have been so positive, that we are looking to continue and expand this partnership for the 2012 season.  Other POGO outreach includes a week-long residency in La Grande in collaboration with Eastern Oregon University.  In 2011, this partnership culminated a public concert, featuring a staging of the second act of Puccini’s La Bohème with the local community chorus.


Portland Opera To Go is one of the few arts education programs in the state that travels to every corner of Oregon, and serves children directly in their schools.  When considering a statewide tour, the Opera’s Manager of Education & Outreach, Alexis Hamiton, works diligently to bring POGO to inner city and rural schools that will receive the most benefit from this program.  In her office is a map of Oregon with colored push-pins of all the communities we have visited in the past ten years, and there is hardly an area of the state that has been neglected.

When we say POGO visits every corner of Oregon, we mean every corner of Oregon – not just larger communities or easily accessible areas.  Over the past three years, POGO has visited communities ranging from La Grande in the far northeast of the state, to tiny Ontario in the southeast corner near Idaho (a different time zone!) POGO visits large schools with hundreds of students participating, to small rural schools like Pine Ridge Elementary in Deschutes County and Culver Elementary in Jefferson County.  In a typical year, 60% of the schools we visit are outside the Portland-metropolitan area.

Wherever POGO visits, we strive to make certain that we reach those children who have little or no access to arts education.  In an average season, more than 50% of the schools that will participate in the program will be Title I schools, and more than 65% of the students we visit will be eligible for free or reduced lunch.  The typical racial demographic for outreach outside of the Portland metropolitan area is 3% African American, 7% Asian, 71% Caucasian, 15% Hispanic, and 4% Native American.  The Racial demographic of students we visit in Portland Public Schools is much more diverse with 12.5% African American, 10% Asian, 53% Caucasian, 23% Hispanic and 1.5% Native American.

One of our main goals is to make POGO affordable for schools that are least likely to be able to afford arts programming. Our standard charge is a modest $1.25 per child. In addition to meeting roughly 5% of the actual costs of bring POGO to the schools, our education staff has found that a minor financial investment on the part of schools is a powerful incentive to encourage educators to use the Opera’s curricular materials in the classroom and prepare for our visit.  However, for some schools, even this small fee is difficult to pay.  For our current 2011 tour, 10% of the schools we visit will received our services at no charge.  The anticipated cost of bringing this program across Oregon in 2012 is $9.27 per student.

The goal is to provide enriching fine arts access to 17,000-20,000 students each year in up to 60 inner city and rural schools and communities throughout the state.  Your support will help us to our goal of a 13-week tour during the 2012 season.   

In addition, the program’s administrator coordinates community benefit concerts for local arts or educational nonprofits in some of the communities we visit.  We anticipate reaching more than 5,000 additional community members through these concerts next season. The POGO program also provides excellent training and performance opportunities for four to six early-career singers each season. 



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Organization Information

Portland Opera

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.portlandopera.org
Project Leader:
Jim Cox
Portland, OR United States

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