Art, music, and entertainment are defining aspects of Portland’s identity. Museums, concerts, and theatre are just a few examples of the thriving arts scene in PDX. However, most of these events come with a high price tag and strict 21+ entry. Despite these obstacles, there are multiple people and organizations in Portland that are making sure youth can be just as involved as wealthier adults in the arts.
Friends of Noise: This group is a nonprofit, partially youth-led organization focused on all ages entertainment and management in Portland. Hosting monthly all ages concerts and youth workshops, Friends of Noise is dedicated to making the music scene in Portland safe and accessible for everyone. Workshops for teens include “how to set up a PA” and “media relations and press releases.” All are useful lessons for those aspiring to be music producers or artists. Every event is all ages, fostering a multigenerational music scene around the city. Stella Augustine, a Friends of Noise youth leader, says “all ages events and art gives young people the comfort and security that [they] need to express [themselves]. [They] are able to form communities and interact with people that like [similar] art, whether it be music or something else.” Augustine also details the importance of youth-led organizations. “There is a certain magical spirit that exists in youth led organizations that you cannot find anywhere else. So often, teenagers are told what to do by adults and in return we feel not valued, not confident and generally pissed off at authority. But, when youth take back the power and authority that we deserve, we not only show the older folks who is boss, but we deeply inspire each other and even the youth younger than us!” she says.
Glam drag: On every second Saturday of the month at Ford Food and Drink, Glam, an all ages drag revue takes place at 7:30 p.m. Brody Gray (11), performs under his drag name Miss Noah Fence. “Having an all ages drag event is so important… the reality is that there is a large community of teen [drag] queens nowadays. Having this opportunity is so important because it gives us all a chance to share our art when we usually do not get to,” Gray says. As a trans guy, Gray appreciates the performance outlet and support he receives from the drag community. “Noah Fence is a character I have created, and drag is about working with fiction and bringing it into your life. Drag is [an] over-the-top style of makeup and fashion… it is an aspect of myself that I am proud of that I am able to share with the world.”
Jackpot Records: The easy-to-miss record store tucked among the various shops along Hawthorne has a lot more to offer than vinyl. Sporadically, and without much warning, Jackpot Records hosts all ages concerts within their small venue. Often in celebration of an artist’s new album, these shows are free of charge and take place in the early evening. Due to their random placements, checking Jackpot’s Facebook page is a good way to stay updated on said events.
Portland Art Museum: For those 17 and under, entry to the art museum is free. With constant rotating exhibitions and an impressive permanent collection, the museum by the Park Blocks allows for endless learning, art history, and entertainment. Up until May, the LAIKA exhibition of stop motion animation films such as Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings will remain on display, as well as a powerful photography collection expressing human rights and hardship. In addition to rotating exhibitions, the museum also holds many impressionist paintings, from Monet to Renoir to Cézanne.
Collage: At Atlas Pizza on both SE Division and N Killingsworth, the local art store chain Collage hosts free monthly craft nights for free. Spanning from keychain, tote bag, and mug creations, these events are perfect for young people with little time and an interest in craft making.
Although the Portland art scene may appeal solely to adults on the surface, there are plenty of opportunities for youth from all backgrounds and interests. In a city with a culture built so fundamentally around music, theatre, performance, and craft, it is only fitting for the younger generations of Portland to continue the tradition.