PHAME is a fine and performing arts academy serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We offer three ten-week terms of arts-based classes each year, as well as many performance opportunities. Taught by talented arts education professionals, our classes include visual art, acting, choir, dance, musical theatre and many more.
PHAME is built upon the belief that art is for everyone. We believe that students, artists, teachers, and the greater community can empower themselves through the arts. With that in mind, PHAME brings passion, joy, and rigor to arts education and performance.
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PHAME empowers individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to lead full, creative lives through arts education and performance.
PHAME envisions a community that champions opportunities and possibilities for all.
Self-Determination. Opportunity. Dignity of Risk. Excellence. Inclusion.
PHAME was founded in 1984 by a group of families and community members who were interested in creating performance opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They envisioned PHAME as an arts alternative to the Special Olympics. PHAME students, families, and volunteers came together on Saturdays to explore singing, dancing and acting, and in the winter of 1984 this new performance troupe performed their first staged theatre production.
Over the next 25 years PHAME continued to grow, adding staff and more weekly classes and performance opportunities. In 1993 PHAME was certified as a 501c3 nonprofit. And while the organization changed leadership and locations a few times over that quarter century, PHAME’s mission continued to be grounded in performance and education for all, taught and produced by working artists in the Portland region.
In 2014, supported by the board and the leadership of Executive Director Stephen Marc Beaudoin, PHAME created a new set of core values. By including Self-Determination, Dignity of Risk, and Inclusion in its values statement, PHAME committed to shaping its programming around the voices, opinions and stories of its students. This commitment spurred the addition of two students to the PHAME board, fast-tracked the creation of staff positions for students, and was the impetus for creating a student leadership and public speaking program.
In 2017, PHAME welcomed Jenny R. Stadler, Ph.D., as its new Executive Director. Under Stadler’s leadership, PHAME has developed valuable relationships with arts leaders and advocates, has laid the groundwork for a partnership model that will bring local arts organizations into PHAME, and has implemented a core curriculum across the Education Program.
Now at 34 years old, PHAME continues to be driven by the belief that art is for everyone. Through classes, performances and community events, PHAME empowers adults with disabilities to explore their creativity, advocate for themselves, and embrace their dreams. PHAME believes that all communities are stronger when everyone is included, and to that end, PHAME continues its work: Creating Art. Expanding Possibilities.
1984: PHAME’s first production, an adaptation of “The Nativity Story,” launches PHAME in December 1984. The production is directed by PHAME's founder, Carol Stady, alongside a group of dedicated families, care providers, and young and older adults with developmental disabilities.
1987: PHAME produces its first fully staged traditional Broadway-style musical, My Fair Lady.
1993: PHAME formally incorporates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
1994: A group of PHAME artists travels to Brussels, Belgium, and offers a command performance as part of the VSA Very Special Arts International Festival.
1998: The holds its first gala fundraising event at Portland's World Trade Center, Portland.
2008: PHAME tours across the Pacific Northwest.
2010: PHAME takes up new residence at Grace Memorial Episcopal Church in Northeast Portland.
2011: PHAME is recognized with the City of Portland “Making A Difference Award,” and breaks attendance records with its summer production of “Grease,” making it the best-attended PHAME production in the organization’s history.
2012: PHAME embarks on its most ambitious touring project to date, with “PHAME: The H is for Honored Tour,” in which over 50 PHAME artists tour across the four-county region, performing to over 3,000 community members in schools, community centers, and concert halls. The tour culminates in a blowout show at the Aladdin Theater. Later that year, PHAME partners with Runaway Mustache Productions to produce the feature-length documentary, In This Together, premiering August 1, 2012 at The Hollywood Theatre. Finally, PHAME collaborates with and opens for Oregon's own globe-trotting world pop mini orchestra, Pink Martini, at the Oregon Zoo.
2014: PHAME celebrates 30 years with a six-show series across Portland called “PHAME @ 30.”
2015: PHAME presents the world premiere play with music Up the Fall. Written by Debbie Lamedman and featuring music and lyrics by Laura Gibson, Up the Fall is performed at Artists Repertory Theatre and is PHAME’s first integrated performance featuring actors with and without disabilities.
2017: PHAME launches the One Community initiative, including the One Community Luncheon and the Oregon Arts Leaders for Inclusion Coalition. In partnership with PHAME students, Director Matthew B. Zrebski develops In a Single Breath, an original play inspired by student experiences. The play is performed at Artists Repertory Theatre by actors with and without disabilities. In August, PHAME hires Jenny R. Stadler, Ph.D. as Executive Director.
2018: PHAME launches a multi-year collaboration with Portland Opera and introduces a new school-wide core curriculum.