Last year, the City of Portland teamed up with local arts and culture programs and classical music organizations to launch a pilot program called Music for All, which offered Oregon Trail Card holders $5 tickets to classical music performances. During Music for All's 6-month run, 1,410 discounted tickets were sold to performances by the Portland Opera, the Oregon Symphony, Chamber Music Northwest, and others.
The success of Music for All's outreach efforts captured the interest of other local arts organizations, and the program accordingly expanded its scope: Newly christened Arts for All, it now offers low-income Oregonians cheap tickets to theater and dance performances as well. The more than 20 participating arts organizations include the Oregon Ballet theater (who have upped their outreach efforts recently to include a pay-your-age program for people under 35), the Miracle Theatre (which frequently produces bilingual work, like their upcoming Day of the Dead show), Portland Center Stage, Artists Repertory Theater, Portland Taiko, Portland Playhouse, and plenty more. It's particularly gratifying to see Tears of Joy and the Oregon Children's Theater on that list: Those shows aren't cheap, but live theater is a pretty amazing experience when you're a kid. (I can barely remember the shows I saw last season, but I still recall a field trip to see OCT's James and the Giant Peach when I was about 10.)
The new iteration of the program will be offered for "as long as it is relevant and sustainable," explains Portland Baroque Orchestra Executive Director Tom Cirillo. There's a complete list of participating arts organizations here; to get tickets for a particular show, the website instructs "Contact the group. They will tell you where and when you can buy them." Which seems potentially confusing/intimidating if you're not accustomed to navigating the high-art world, so I asked Oregon Ballet Theatre's Trisha Mead to explain what getting tickets to OBT would entail:
At OBT, patrons have two choices: stop by our box office in advance or purchase them at the performance. Either way they simply flash their Oregon Trail Card to get the $5 tickets.
For most organizations, the simple answer is that they need to arrange their Arts for All tickets in person at the box office or go down to the theater and just buy them the night of show, because the org needs to confirm that the patron has a Trail Card, which is tricky by phone or internet. In a rare number of cases, orgs might allow people to call for tickets and show their card when they pick up their seats at will call, but the best bet is nearly always to go to the organization's physical box office in advance of the show. On the upside, most of the orgs have box offices in the downtown/inner Portland core.