The Portland Actors Ensemble is solid in their respect for Shakespeare. In 1970 they did their first Shakespeare in the Park free performance with As You Like It in Laurelhurst Park. Their mission statement: “To bring financially accessible classical theater to Portland communities in a nontraditional environment.” Since then many things have changed. At least a couple of things haven’t. This year it is Antony and Cleopatra.
Today in Portland there are nearly 12,000 children attending schools that do not have any art, dance, drama, or music instruction. And the rate of decline for arts education here has been shockingly steep. Portland is home to six school districts and in the last five years, two of them (Parkrose and Centennial) have cut their arts and music teaching staff by half, while our largest (Portland Public Schools) has dropped all arts instruction in 22 schools in just two years.
With the Arts Education and Access Fund, the City of Portland will restore arts education by providing stable, long-term funding for certified teachers for every elementary school serving Portland residents and support arts organizations citywide to improve access to the arts in every classroom and community.