How the Miracle Theatre Group is Connecting With a Growing Latino Population in the Northwest

Portland, Ore. based Miracle Theatre Group, the Northwest's premier Latino arts and culture organization, was awarded four grants totaling $47,200 in support of arts and health education programming, capacity building, and arts residencies. The award underscores the emerging Latino influence in the region's art scene as well as the group's successful efforts to launch programming offerings that resonate with this growing demographic. 

First, let's look at the underlying forces that serve as a pretext for these awards. Latino population is surging in the Pacific Northwest. Recent Census figures found that the Latino population in Oregon grew by 64 percent over the previous decade. (In Washington State, the growth is even more impressive: 71 percent over the past 10 years.)

So the big question facing Northwest nonprofit arts organizations  and other nonprofits in cities undergoing similar demographic shifts  is "how do we respond?" The answer, as always, depends on the organization. Some are keeping their heads down, focusing on their existing audience demographics, resistant to change. Others are studying their counterparts in larger cities like Los Angeles and New York City. And others are experimenting with Latino-influenced pilot programming to test the proverbial waters. The Miracle Theatre Group, however, is going all-in, rolling out a robust agenda build on arts education, community outreach, touring, and training.  

The best way to get a full picture of the group's vision is to look at what, precisely, they'll do with this latest round of funding:

  • $30,000 grant from the Fred W. Fields Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation to fund one year of capacity building for the group's touring and arts education programming. The group is growing rapidly and this grant will support its three-year plan to broaden its arts education programs. 
  • $10,000 grant from the EC Brown Foundation to fund the first year of a collaborative project with Latino Network and the Cascade AIDS Project.
  • $7,500 grant from the Autzen Foundation to support the expansion of its summer arts camp program into after-school settings.
  • $4,200 grant from the Oregon Arts Commission to support the group's arts education programming, including its bilingual arts residency in Baker City, Oregon.

Taken in totality, the core elements of the group's strategy are unmistakable. They maintain a strong commitment to youth arts education, innovative programming, cross-organizational collaboration, and experiential residencies. If you're a nonprofit arts organization looking for a road map to help you adapt to changing demographics in your respective city, look no further than the Miracle Theatre Group.