Thank god for 5 Useless Degrees | New Portland theatre criticism outlet takes aim at outrageous PCPA ticketing fees

They haven’t been around for that long in a journalistic capacity, but they routinely hit the bulls-eye like experienced vets.

In their weekly podcast, 5 Useless Theatre Degrees & A Bottle of Scotch are consistently the freshest voice in town. Beholden to no one, and with no skin in the game or advertising revenue to lose, the duo of James Engberg and Eric Kilgore gore the sacred cows with a vengeance and tell it like it is.

Thank god.

In their latest report, the two mention at the outset of the show the absurd extra ticketing fees you will have the pleasure of paying if you ever try to buy tickets from the PCPA (or whatever it’s called). It should be said that citizens are somewhat protected from the fees right now because the ticketing web site is so non functional, you have to really want to suffer to move your purchase all the way through to completion. It’s great to hear someone focusing in on this, but the fees are only the tip of the iceberg.

There is a much, much bigger story here that someone needs to tell at length. In a nutshell, how is it that instead of the cool, vibrant city theatre center that Portland SHOULD have downtown, we in fact have the horrific eyesore that is the PCPA, a generic piece of throwaway architecture that looks like a mall, has interior decorating from East Berlin, serves bland food, and sticks citizens with usurious ticket fees that are siphoned off to major corporations? Why is a publicly owned arts center being managed not for the benefit of audience members, but instead for the raft of special interests that penetrate the center and extract their pound of flesh? I suspect the full story here would curl your hair.

It started with the decision to build the monstrosity we know and don’t love, and how whoever was in charge did NOT pick a submitted proposal from international star architect Philip Johnson, because it was too expensive. The “design” (if that’s the right word) they did pick went on to go way over budget and cost (you guessed it) more than the Johnson project. That was the key moment. Because instead of a building that is a work of art, we have a major piece of blight on SW Broadway. Imagine what could have been possible if we had started with a world class building? Unfortunately, the look and feel of a place sets a strong tone that it becomes hard to overcome. And no amount of rebranding on earth is going to make the totalitarian PCPA cool. It just ain’t gonna happen.

Meanwhile, if you enjoy sending your money to Ticketmaster and other faceless corps, keep buying tickets online at the PCPA.

Mission impossible: Make this building cool.  Good luck.
Mission impossible: Make this building cool. Good luck.

Would not be out of place at the old Friedrich Strasse U-Bahn.  If this is the aesthetic of the space, what kind of shows will they put on?
Would not be out of place at the old Friedrich Strasse U-Bahn. If this is the aesthetic of the space, what kind of shows will they put on?

The dreaded $8 fee.  "We'll just mark up your ticket another 20% to pay for the cost of our wonderful rebranding."
The dreaded $8 fee. “We’ll just mark up your ticket another 20% to pay for the cost of our wonderful rebranding.”