An Important Update from PBO’s Executive Director

Dear Friends,

I’m writing this from my desk at home. It’s been three months since our daily lives changed dramatically, and much has happened since then. Our worlds have shifted.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve realized how much I have taken the future for granted. Like a piece of music that I know forward and backward, I’ve relied upon recurring themes as time passes: the reopening of farmer’s markets in the spring; the change of pace as school closes for summer; the excitement of a new arts and culture season each autumn. Now it’s as if that reliable music, with its beloved themes (and even that one annoying part that makes me question the composer’s intent), has had its pages removed, cut apart, and taped back together in a haphazard order. There are moments that I recognize, certainly, but it’s all disorienting and strange. I’m having to think harder and pay more attention. There is no relaxing into what I know; I’m alert and on guard for surprises. Things have changed, and it’s uncomfortable.

But of course, it’s in the uncomfortable places that we grow. Paying attention to the world around us has finally forced our society to acknowledge systemic injustices, racism, and violence against the Black community; being limited in our ability to return to the status quo has required us to imagine new ways of connecting with one another. I have hope that the world we are building together right now is one of greater equity, creativity, justice, and beauty. We have hard work to do, and the potential for a much-improved new normal is what inspires me to keep going.

So it is that we look ahead to the future of our arts and culture community. We know now that it may be some time (months or even a year) before we are able to gather together in person. I know many of you are concerned about the future of PBO.

Let me assure you that we have a plan. We’ll be telling you everything later this month, but a few key “spoilers:”

PBO’s musicians, staff, and board have worked together to create something new and special. For the time being, we plan to hold our 2020-21 Season entirely online (though we can certainly change course and open our concert hall if safety guidelines change). We’ll be filming at least 12 new performances in high definition, with the spectacular audio quality you’ve come to expect from PBO. Because musician safety is among our very highest priorities, these performances will feature smaller – socially distanced – ensembles in unique venues. Monica has been hard at work reimagining the season, which will feature works by Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Mendelssohn, Handel, and so many more.

We’re also launching a digital concert hall, Great Arts. Period., which we are sharing with the Portland arts community. PBO’s performances will be presented there, alongside extraordinary performances by fellow arts organizations.

In the next few weeks, we’ll be reaching out to let you know how you can help. Over half of PBO’s costs are supported by ticket purchases, and the path forward requires new ways of doing business. We’ll be in touch!

At the beginning of this letter, I mentioned writing this from my home desk. What I didn’t tell you is that I moved last month – delightfully – into the family home of one of PBO’s founders. There’s a poetry to this new-to-me point of view, seated firmly in PBO’s roots. Things are changing, and there is no bargaining that away or denying it. But we have a firm foundation, strong ties to one another, and an adventurous spirit. I am so grateful to have you with us as we learn and grow in this next chapter.

All best and more soon,

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