The Portland’5 Centers for the Arts has been awarded the 2014 Venue Excellence Award by the International Association of Venue Managers. The award was be presented to Portland’5 at the Oregon Convention Center on July 28 at the association’s 89th annual conference.
The association gives awards in four venue categories -- arenas, conventions centers, performance art centers and stadiums. Portland’5 won in the category of performance art centers.
“What does it mean?” asks Robyn Williams, Portland’5’s executive director. “It’s just a way of saying we are doing a good job. Does it bring more money or business to Portland’5? No. But it’s validation that the entire staff can take pride in. We are one of the best in the world at what we do. We can say it all we want. But now there’s proof.”
The association is an international network of venue professionals that promotes education, best practices, and professional development. It also operates schools and produces a magazine. The association has offices around the world, including Beijing, Amsterdam and Brisbane.
Venues must apply for awards. The application process is detailed and voluminous. Applicants respond to several questions and must detail examples of venue excellence in different areas, including customer service, marketing, operations, sustainability, financials and more.
For example, Williams notes that many performance art centers conduct safety and evacuation drills once or twice a year. Portland’5 does it every month. Williams says that level of detail extends to every administrative and operational area of Portland’5.
“That’s what’s great about the award,” says Williams. “It reflects the contributions of all of our staff, not just one part. It’s an all-staff award.”
Williams has some personal history with the award and the association. She used to be the association’s president and conceived of the awards in 2009. The awards began in 2010 and have been given out to a diverse group of venues in every category. Washington Pavilion in South Dakota, BOK Center in Oklahoma, Safeco Field in Seattle, Anaheim Convention Center and the Oregon Convention Center are some winners from past years.
“We have a well-run venue and it’s an important part of this community, too,” says Williams. “Venues in smaller cities are important to the community. They gather people together.”