Theater! Comedy! Food! In partnership with Travel Portland, the Events & Film Office at Prosper Portland is proud to announce three awardees for the inaugural Scale Up Grant, a competitive grant program providing funding and technical assistance for local Portland events that are positioned to grow and attract attendance beyond the Portland metro region. The awardees for the first round are Fertile Ground Festival of New Works, Kickstand Comedy in the Park, and Good Food Awards Weekend. All three events will take place in January – June 2024.

Commissioner Carmen Rubio said, Scale Up Event Grant recipients are leading the way to demonstrate the importance of the creative economy to Portland’s recovery. Creativity and vision are what Portland has always been known to do well – and with this financial support, these events are positioned to draw even more visitors to our beautiful city.” 

Fertile Ground: A City-Wide Festival of New Works, a program of Portland Area Theatre Alliance (PATA)

Fertile Ground Festival of New Works is an 11-day festival featuring new performances by local artists including world premiere projects, staged readings, developing works, and a myriad of other arts events from the Portland creative community.

After a strategic hiatus, Portland Area Theatre Alliance is presenting its first in-person Festival since 2020.

Fertile Ground showcases new and local “acts of creation” at various stages in their development. In 2020, the Festival included 52 unique projects by 46 different producers, including fully staged world premieres, readings of new scripts, songs from new musicals, solo shows, puppetry, dance, circus arts, and panel discussions with local artists. In 2024, the Festival will expand to include local restaurants and bars near venues and invite them to offer a discount for Festival attendees.

“As a new leadership team trying to bring a beloved Festival back to full force and into a phase of new growth, the Scale Up grant could not come at a better moment, or more perfectly align with our objectives for Fertile Ground’s future: to showcase the wealth and diversity of our local performing arts community, and realize our founder’s vision of Fertile Ground as a destination event for exciting new ‘acts of creation’ and local culture,” said Tamara Carroll, director of Fertile Ground Festival of New Work.

A man and a woman holding a dog in front of a banner that says Kickstand Comedy in the ParkKickstand Comedy in the Park is a series of free Friday evening comedy shows curated for an all-ages audience. The event has taken place every summer since its creation in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic-related closures of comedy and performing arts venues. Hosted in Laurelhurst Park from late June to early September, Comedy in the Park regularly attracts 4,700 Portlanders and out-of-town guests to the park each week.

“Kickstand Comedy in the Park is back in 2024 and is shaping up to be better than ever thanks to the Scale Up grant! With these funds, we’re excited to remount one of Portland’s premier free summer events while paying our comedians and staff more, ensuring a better audience experience, creating wider access, and giving Portlanders (and their dogs) even more reasons to share laughter together this summer,”  said Dylan Reiff, artistic director of Kickstand Comedy

The Good Food Awards Weekend is a nationally recognized three-day celebration of sustainable, socially responsible, and delicious food and drink makers from all over the country. The first day brings together local Portland and Oregon leaders in food and farming for a special welcome dinner highlighting local agriculture and small food businesses. The second day includes an Oscars-style awards ceremony where 200 top national food makers will receive medals and give inspiring acceptance speeches, followed by an after-party. The third day is the Good Food Mercantile: 240 local and national sustainable food makers will sample their products for grocery store owners, food media, and distributors from all over the country.

“We are thrilled to receive a Scale Up Grant to grow and deepen our roots in Portland. This city and its unique food and maker culture has always had tremendous resonance with the Good Food Foundation’s national community of best-in-class food and drink crafters, who loved coming here last year for the big gala celebration. This grant allows us to build on that foundation and create a public tasting for food-loving Portlanders to join in the celebration and connect with the roasters, cheesemakers, curers, picklers, and confectioners in town for Good Food Awards weekend,” said Sarah Weiner, executive director of the Good Food Foundation.

Scale Up Grants are intended to advance the city’s economic and cultural revitalization, with an emphasis on supporting areas of Portland that have experienced a significant impact from COVID, including high losses in number of businesses and employment, high increase in office vacancies, and significant change in visitor and employee foot traffic.

Award packages are comprehensive programs consisting of up to $25,000 in direct financial support plus custom technical, marketing, administrative, and logistical assistance provided by Travel Portland and Prosper Portland. Packages are customized for each recipient depending on needs requested during the application process. Awardees can also connect with other grant recipients as a part of a cohort model.

Applications open in spring 2024 for the second round of Scale Up Grants to support eligible events happening July – December 2024.