As a community cultural center, the Portland 5 Center for the Arts hosts everything from small community groups and children’s theatres to major presenting art institutions and arts festivals. The inherent features of the 30-year-old building allowed for a distinct “Elizabethan” style performance, but outdated staging systems held the arts center back from cultivating a more diverse group of tenants and audiences. The center needed a multipurpose stage that would not only enable easier transformation, but also better accommodate both intimate and large-scale productions.
Director of Operations Jason Blackwell knew that an integrated staging system was required for both stage managers and groups of varying sizes to be able to quickly and easily alter the performance space.
“Having the same system for 30 years has been really limiting in terms of how we can adjust the room. It has also been incredibly labor intensive and therefore expensive to convert because of the way it was designed. In an effort to diversify our ability to be an attractive place for different kinds of presentations and have short turnarounds that are not incredibly expensive, we decided to make this investment with an eye towards [building] a system that’s not only attractive, but functional,” Blackwell said. “That kind of diversification helps support our long range goal of being multifunctional and multidisciplinary. The more you can be flexible, the more attractive you are and the more bookings you receive or presentations you can offer to the public. We’re all about accessibility and utilization.”
Staging Concepts recently had an opportunity to replace riser equipment for Portland’5 Centers for the Arts Winningstad and Newmark theaters. Portland’5 was looking for staging equipment that was lightweight, sturdy, and field reparable.
In the Newmark theatre, the goal was to find a way to raise the orchestra to allow the conductor to see what was taking place on the main stage. The existing orchestra pit contained a lift, but when it was between the pit floor and audience height, a gap of unusable space appeared between the pit wall and the lift. Staging Concepts needed to manufacture a solution that would allow the pit floor to be raised high enough for the conductor to see the main stage performance and still have the floor space for the full orchestra. Staging Concepts completed the task by using custom SC90 platforms, SC90 legs, aluminum guardrail and custom stairs to fill the gap between the raised pit lift and the rear pit wall.
In the Winningstad Theatre, where the primary goal was to create an adjustable, tiered audience riser, Staging Concepts installed SC90 platforms with Adjustable SC90 legs to provide the flexibility to easily change rises and layouts.