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Fertile Ground Announces Strategic Hiatus For 2023 Festival

During this hiatus, the PATA Board of Directors will work toward restructuring the funding and staffing required for a sustainable future of the Fertile Ground Festival.

Fertile Ground Announces Strategic Hiatus For 2023 Festival

After a consistent 13 years of production as an annual festival dedicated to supporting new "acts of creation" by Portland artists, Fertile Ground Festival of New Works, a program of the Portland Area Theatre Alliance (PATA), will take a strategic hiatus for the 2023 festival. During this hiatus, the PATA Board of Directors will work toward restructuring the funding and staffing required for a sustainable future of the Fertile Ground Festival.

This difficult decision comes after the program made a range of major pivots during the pandemic in order to offer artists the opportunity and the outlet to share new work on a digital platform, and to give audiences the opportunity to see their stories online. During the 2021 and 2022 festivals, not only were registration fees reduced to create access for artists, but the festival productions were offered on a donation-to-the-artist basis only, or a pay-to-view fee paid to producers by ticket-buyers. Fertile Ground felt this was important to support the artist community struggling during the pandemic, and in order to draw an audience to the works. This vision meant that Fertile Ground did not have access to the revenue-generating $50 Festival Pass that had been essential in moderately funding the previous 11 years.

Since its inception in 2008 - the brainchild of founder Trisha Mead - and its first festival in January 2009, Fertile Ground has presented well-over 1300 "acts of creation" that represent the new work of thousands of Portland-area artists, creative teams and arts producers. Since the inaugural festival in 2009 far more than 70 Fertile Ground-originated works have gone on to further productions, locally, nationally and in festivals worldwide. The "extended life" of these past Fertile Ground productions was documented in 2018 for the 10th annual festival, in this archive.

"I am deeply proud of the role of Fertile Ground in Portland's artistic landscape over the past 13 years," said Nicole Lane, Fertile Ground Festival Director (2010-present). "From the bottom of my heart, I've been grateful to support the artists of Portland over its many incarnations, all these years. It has taken a village of dedicated volunteers to make Fertile Ground happen and adapt each year to the needs of the festival. I believe now is the time to look back, and identify successes and improvements, in order to look forward. It is time to assess how the program can become sustainable, fiscally and from a human-powered perspective. I am glad PATA plans to take this strategic hiatus to work on this important new works platform for the sake of Portland's creative community."

"I am excited for the future of Fertile Ground," said Dré Slaman, Fertile Ground Managing Director (2014-2022). "This strategic hiatus is a tremendous opportunity for PATA to fortify the foundation that has been built by a team of dedicated, passionate volunteers over the last 13 years. This moment in time offers a chance to make the festival stronger, so that it may to continue to be an outlet for artists to share their work, and the Portland community to enjoy it for years to come."

"The Portland Area Theatre Alliance takes great pride in the fact that The Fertile Ground Festival of New Works is one of our programs, and we will be taking a much needed opportunity to create a robust strategic plan for its future," said Samson Syharath, PATA Board President. "This festival has provided an amazing, and invaluable, platform for local performers and creators for the past 13 years. We hope to expand upon the equitable practices already in place under the leadership of Nicole Lane and Dré Slaman, with more support from grant funding, and a sustainable staffing structure. There are so many possibilities for how this festival can grow, and we are excited to explore them thoroughly."

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