Arts Center for Youth

Lobby Stairs
Northwest Children’s Theater and School has been the anchor tenant in the historic Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center since 1993.  In addition to NWCT’s theater arts programming, the company’s founders had long held a dream of turning the entire building into an arts center for youth.  “We imagined a vibrant cultural hub for the city’s children, one where they could experience all the arts, from theater and dance to music and fine art,” says NWCT Managing Director Judy Kafoury.  “We saw a future where NWCT and its arts partners could offer ‘one-stop arts shopping’ for children and families.”
In 2009, NWCT was granted a long-term master lease on the historic property. Through the efforts of staff and dedicated volunteers, NWCT embarked on a year of cosmetic updates and improvements, and began fundraising for capital projects, such as the Storybook Theater and Anna G. Bennett Dance Studio.  Since then, arts programming in the building has expanded beyond NWCT to include multiple disciplines, including dance, music and fine art.

Arts Partners

PCAS offers quality art education for children ages 3+ in drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, clay, paper-mache and other art media. Their studio space is designed to be an integral part of the learning process, allowing children to be fully immersed and engaged in their own creative process of exploration and discovery. The first drop-in class is only $10!

Portland Boy Choir
Portland’s only all-boy choir, fostering identity, personality, and self-esteem through musical excellence in a choral setting.  Unique, first-class music education and performance opportunities for boys ages 6 to 18.
Music Together holds morning classes multiple times a week. Lasting 45 minutes, the classes include songs, rhythmic rhymes, movement, and instrument play. Activities are presented as informal, non-performance-oriented musical experiences. Designed for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergartners, and their adults, these classes sing and dance up a storm, family style.

About the Building

NWCT LobbyBuilt in 1908, the Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center was originally a Church of Christian Scientists, the first built west of the Rocky Mountains. The building sits on land originally developed by Captain John Heard Couch. The three-story Roman-revival building with stately colonnade and domed roof totals over 33,000 square feet.

Once an active church community, by the late seventies the congregation had diminished to only 100 parishioners, and the church was offered for sale. Residents mounted a drive to raise money to purchase the building. The former church became a community center for social service providers, with focus on the elderly.

As the neighborhood gentrified in the early 1990s and tenants left, the center struggled again to keep its doors open. The newly-formed Northwest Children’s Theater and School came to the rescue and made the building its permanent home, at once saving the cultural landmark from closing, and breathing new life into the neighborhood.
In 2009, NWCT celebrated the signing a long-term lease agreement for its beloved home, allowing for exciting program expansion, as well as much-needed upgrades and improvements. The building now holds three historical designations (city, state and federal), and NWCT’s award-winning programming brings over 60,000 children, families and students into the neighborhood each year.

Future Projects & Plans

NWCT is actively seeking permanent and part-time nonprofit tenants, especially arts organizations offering programming to children ages 3-18. NWCT tenants enjoy well-maintained spaces with reasonable rental rates and terms, and professional, responsive management. Tenants can also receive administrative and marketing support. Click here to request more information about becoming an NWCT tenant or arts partner.
NWCT’s future plans for the building include ongoing fundraising for improvements and regulatory upgrades. For more information about the Northwest Neighborhood Cultural Center, please contact NWCT Managing Director, Judy Kafoury.

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