The Portland performing arts scene is a vital staple of the city’s ecosystem. Every functioning ecosystem needs nourishment in order to thrive. Isinglass is a Portland non-profit that is committed to improving the health of all elements in Portland’s ecosystem, with the ultimate goal of a thriving and vibrant arts industry across the country.

Founded in 2012, Isinglass seeks to develop, pilot and implement programs that promote a healthy arts industry, community and education system. Isinglass sees education as being one of the most important elements of ensuring a future thriving performing arts ecosystem.

This organization believes in working together to take on theatre’s biggest challenges. Isinglass strives to connect people and organizations to one another and facilitate mutually beneficial exchanges between them is in order to create lasting, sustainable change. Isinglass focuses on fostering communication between artists, organizations, educators and businesses, disseminating essential data and other resources, and engaging diverse perspectives as they search for new ways to ensure a healthy future for the performing arts.

Isinglass‘ five principles of creative problem solving form the basis of every project they pursue. The five principles are: bias towards action (the only way to know if something will work is to actually do it), no tender flowers (creativity requires courage, resilience and trust. Ideas must be challenged in order to flourish), utopia first (always start with the best version of your idea and go from there. Intractable problems often require audacious solutions), its all a story (even a great idea is only as good as the story it tells and the people it inspires), and collab is king (get a bunch of brilliant people in the room).

Isinglass hosts an education program called EGG theatre leadership academy. This program offers a unique approach to theatre education that begins with the premise that empowering a teen with entrepreneurial leadership skills and a passion for the performing arts will have a transformative impact on their entire community.

The organization is committed to improving the presence of performing arts in all schools in the Portland metro area, especially where there is little to no programming. To ensure access to all students, regardless of socio-economic status, Egg tuition is charged on a sliding scale based on a family’s ability to pay. More than 80% of students receive some reduction, with more than 20% attending for free each year. They are able to provide this tuition relief thanks to the generosity of donors and partnering organizations.

If you’d like to get involved with Isinglass you can contact them at

This week at Portland Radio Project we feature Isinglass as part of our award-winning Community Voices series. You can listen below to interviews with key members of the organization:

Ahna Dunn-Wilder, Program Associate

John Zajac, Executive Director

Isabele McTighe, Former Student/Current Intern

Tom Beckett, PPS Teacher and Current Board Member