We've seen the struggle that people have to accessing theatre specifically in Portland. There are some programs in place to reach an audience that is financially less able to go to the theatre. We believe that theatre is an important part of community and building community, but people can't do that, unless they are able to be in the room sharing that experience with others. For many years we offered at least half of all our performances at a pay-what-you-will rate, meaning that for half our shows people were allowed and encouraged to give what they could to access theatre. That could be $50, it could be $.50, we received both, and those people received the same experience. At the start of our 2017/18 season we made the decision to move to a total pay-what-you-will season, so ALL our performances are pay-what-you-will. We believe this will allow everyone access to the theatre, and to the community that theatre helps build. Transitioning to a PWYW policy helps us deliver the best art we can make to as many possible members of our community by taking the ticket price out of the decision to attend a show. One of our most important goals is to reach those who’ve never seen live theatre, and by welcoming those people into our audience for however much they’d like to pay, we are removing a barrier to a cultural event they might not otherwise attend. we love telling people that they get to place whatever value they see fit on their experience.Many of us come from an impoverished background where access to art was often cost prohibitive. The ability to remove or at the very least lessen that burdon and allow someone to experience theatre, if only for the night, on a level playing field is truly one of our proudest achievements at Defunkt. We strive to give underrepresented voices amplification on stage allowing powerful personal and political stories to unfold, but to then place that in action for our audience is really serving and fostering the community we are not only in but also apart of.
Our mission has always been about removing boundaries to experiencing world class theater. Rent and Price of Living increases in Portland have made it even harder for people to meet their basic needs, let alone enjoy an evening at the theater. We worked towards this policy for several years to ensure that everyone, in any financial situation can have access and be a part of the work we do.
Because of this move, we need help supporting those people who have $.50 for a ticket. We need to be able to continue this idea long term. We've just started our second PWYW season, and we've seen an increase in the number of people coming to the theatre and we want to make sure that trend continues, for us to continue offering accessible theatre, we need funds to help us create it.