Tucked behind trees and shrubs on the corner of Division and 57th sits the once coffee shop turned art studio, Vibe of Portland. The Vibe arts program has existed for ten years now, but has only resided in its current studio as of summer 2017. The program was originally started by Laura Streib, who would travel from school to school around Portland with other arts teachers, providing quality art programs to elementary age students. Streib graduated from Portland State with a Masters in Musical Education, and admitted there were not many jobs available in schools, thus inspiring The Vibe program. Since its creation in 2007, The Vibe has reached thousands of students, growing more and more each year, and continues to impact the community in positive ways.
The Vibe of Portland was originally created to make up for the lack of arts and music programs in schools. “For a very, very creative city, there was no arts in the schools and that was not okay with me,” said Streib. Streib grew up going to a very arts-focused elementary school that she still remembers fondly today. “The reason some of my friends came to school was for band, art classes, etc,” she said. Cutting arts programs has become a common occurrence in Portland, which frustrates Streib. Streib believes that the arts are essential to a child’s education. Getting kids to think creatively and use their right brains could improve a student’s attitude toward school and the desire to learn. The dismissal of the arts would only dampen the learning experience. Rather than wait for the district to get its act together, she knew she needed to make an impact right away. That and the worry for the future of her own children’s education was enough to spark the idea of the studio. “I didn’t want to wait for the school district to fix it because art and music are always being the first thing to get cut,” said Streib. The studio offers a variety of courses and activities including ukulele, percussion, choir, music and movement classes, painting, ceramics, mixed media, zines, and sculpture. The studio also hosts birthday parties and summer camps. There is always something going on at The Vibe.
Streib has already seen growth in kids that have been taking classes from the program for several years. “It has been really cool to see kids that have started as preschool students and who are now in elementary school, and how they’ve grown as people, and artists, and how they’ve built friendships in their classes.” Streib makes sure to hire quality arts education teachers, some of whom have been with the program since its creation. In the future, she hopes to grow her studio to reach many more kids and inspire the reintroduction of arts and music into a traditional education system.