Executive director
Portland’5 Centers for the Arts

It’s no surprise Robyn Williams has garnered the attention of the industry, despite her location in a smaller market. With 14 weeks of Broadway on the books, 2020 is expected to be Portland’5 Centers for the Arts’ biggest year in its history.

“We’re projecting a banner year, as that’s a lot of product for us,” Williams said. Plus, the center’s non-Broadway presentations “are really taking off and becoming successful.”

“We’re presenting a lot of shows in halls that are 800 seats or less because our big halls are so busy,” Williams said. “The presentation we closed out at the end of June netted $420,000 for 35 shows, an amazing trajectory considering we’re presenting small shows and are relatively new at this.”

It also has been a big year for the center in terms of capital projects. It has recently replaced its roof and is working on an $8 million acoustical upgrade that will be completed next summer. 

“There will be major differences in the hall’s acoustics,” Williams said. “This is a big deal because we’ll be one of the first historic theaters that uses the Meyer (Sound) Constellation system technology.” The system allows the hall to change its acoustics at the touch of a button to accommodate presentations, lectures or music.

Another focus has been safety and security.

“We’re determining whether we’ll be putting in metal detectors or taking a softer approach like Broadway with bag checks,” Williams said. “Small markets and events aren’t immune to domestic terrorism, so we need to see how we should be reacting, what we should be doing differently and what we need to do to accommodate the next level of security needs.”