The world of performances for young audiences and theater education in North America is mourning the loss of one of our best and brightest, Colleen Porter, who passed away on Thursday March 22, 2012 after a long illness.
Colleen Porter has been the Director of Community Engagement and Education at PlayhouseSquare since 2002. Porter is responsible for programming PlayhouseSquare’s school and family performance series, artist residencies and community arts events. Through her work with local, national and international arts organizations, PlayhouseSquare annually provides programming for more than 150,000 participants. She brought the International Showcase of Performing Arts for Youth to Cleveland in 2005 and has orchestrated the event’s return to the city in 2007 and 2009.
Colleen was instrumental in the development of the Idea Center at PlayhouseSquare, the $42 million renovation of an historic building in downtown Cleveland’s theater district into the headquarters for Cleveland’s public broadcasting stations and the home for PlayhouseSquare’s arts education programs. Through the one-of-a-kind partnership between PlayhouseSquare and WVIZ/PBS & 90.3 WCPN idea stream, Colleen develops innovative new programming including BackStage With and the Careers in the Performing Arts distance learning series.
Prior to her arrival at PlayhouseSquare, Colleen spent seventeen years in Buffalo, New York as an artist, faculty member at Canisius College, and Chair of the Performing Arts Department at The Nichols School.
Colleen was recently on our TYA/USA board, previously on the boards of APAP and IPAY, and helped change the face of Showcase with her dedication to the learning communities. She was whip-smart and kick-ass, passionate, witty, committed to excellence and new work, and had a tough exterior that did not very successfully mask a huge generosity of spirit. This fierce and funny woman will be greatly missed – there’s a big hole in many of our hearts, and in the field.
Even in the relatively short time she has served on our board Colleen made a significant impact. Our One Theatre World 2013 partnership with Colleen’s Playhouse Square would not be possible without her hard work and enthusiasm to bring together the best in the field.
We send our condolences to the family; Playhouse Square; and our sister organization, IPAY. Together with many artists, theatre makers, producers, and presenters we recognize Colleen’s life and work as an example of great collaboration, vision, and dedication. She will be deeply missed.
For everyone’s reference, The Plain Dealer published an obituary for Colleen,– indicating that the family has requested contributions to the PlayhouseSquare Education Fund in lieu of flowers — and that a celebration of her life has been scheduled in Lewiston, NY on Saturday, March 31. There will be a memorial service celebrating her life in Cleveland in the first week of May when the Children’s Festival will be taking place.