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The Future Of The Northwest Film Center

What is the mission of NWFC going forward?

NWFC is a Portland-based, national non-profit and cultural center where artists and audiences explore and enjoy cinema and cinematic storytelling in all its forms. Our mission is to expand the definition and reach of cinema as an art form.

The NWFC advocates for pioneering filmmakers and artists, gives a platform to voices that might not otherwise be heard, and serves as a catalyst for cultural appreciation, conversation, collaboration, and community-building around new ways of seeing—locally, regionally and globally.

We embrace and showcase cinematic storytelling in all its forms—celluloid, digital, virtual reality, animated, podcasts, and other existing and emerging technology. This expands not only imagination but access for all.

What will exhibition and programming look like in the immediate future?

Film and new media exhibitions will begin to live beyond the walls of the Whitsell Auditorium, both inside and outside the Museum, as a vital part of the Portland Art Museum and our community going forward. We will continue to look for the most effective ways to engage audiences, as we have this summer with our partnership with Zidell Yards on the Cinema Unbound Drive-In series. We were also selected as the sole U.S. partner for the Venice Biennale’s VR program in September 2020, showcasing more than 30 of the most exciting VR and XR stories in the world for our members and public. This is a huge honor, and the first time in the history of the Biennale they have collaborated with other international institutions globally.

What is the Northwest Film Center’s relationship with the Portland Art Museum?

As part of the Portland Art Museum, the NWFC is supported by the entire institution’s membership, development, operations, educational, communications and curatorial resources, as well as the state-of-the-art Whitsell Auditorium and exhibition spaces.

What are concrete ways NWFC will reach its Equity and Inclusion goals and expand to serve new audiences and artists communities locally and globally?

We are opening our doors wider, to ensure that both our physical spaces and the people we serve create a more equitable and inclusive community moving forward—extending from audiences and students, to our staff, board, and more.

We will also grow the Film and New Media Committee by including 50 percent working artists and industry leaders in addition to current community philanthropists and Trustees, through an improved equity lens. We will accomplish this, in part, by creating an Advisory Committee of local, national and international storytellers and industry professionals.

We will continue to exhibit and support work that showcases the talents of voices that might not otherwise be heard both on screen and in the museum, specifically BIPOC artists and makers, and work with local and international guest curators. Finally, we will connect our regional art and maker community with the global film and media arts ecosystem, providing opportunities for them to financially and creatively sustain and expand their talents.


Programming, Artist Services & Learning

When will the Whitsell reopen?

We will continue to take direction from state and local health officials regarding reopening the Whitsell Auditorium. When we are able to open the theater our safety protocols and procedures will be shared with the community on our website, weekly newsletters, and throughout the facilities.

Will the NWFC maintain its commitment to local, regional and national cinema artists?

Absolutely. We remain wholly committed to exhibiting, teaching and fostering the talents of both global and Northwest-based artists. This commitment allows the NWFC to showcase the diverse, exquisite talent from our region and to bring it to the wider world. Serving and supporting artists has always been central to the NWFC’s mission, and that will continue to be a focal point through our newly formed Artist Services department, featuring granting opportunities (including the Oregon Media Arts Fellowship and others), a new fiscal sponsorship program, ongoing professional development workshops, producer-in-residence program, mentorship and improved connection to national and international creative opportunities. We will also be financially supporting Oregon artists with grants that will include sustainability and direct support for filmmakers, new media storytellers and artists.

What about your commitment to education?

We will continue to offer classes, workshops, hands-on programs both virtually and in person as soon as we’re able. When we think about our cinema unbound approach as it relates to experiential learning and the possibilities of our future, we look forward to supporting pioneering, provocative, and timely work that challenges the status quo. To this end, multi-media artist development labs are in the works, which will bring local and global forward-thinking artists from Portland to the world and embrace our unique, tight-knit media-making community while they work on their projects holistically through coaching, mentorship, connectivity and career sustainability.

Will the programming at the NWFC continue to include legacy formats?

We will continue to exhibit film, digital and new media arts in all forms, lengths, and forms—including audio and performance. Career sustainability requires creative and financial know-how that is ever-changing. To that end, while analogue filmmaking arts will always be a part of our offerings, we will be expanding our focus to offer classes in television, virtual and augmented reality, and audio storytelling. Workshops and classes will also be offered as experiential AND digital classes going forward with an equity lens.  A greater focus on professional development workshops and mentorship will also be integrated, with an eye towards long-term, creative and financial sustainability for our artists.


Membership Questions

I’m a current member, why should I continue my support?

By supporting NWFC, you are supporting the future of storytelling and cinema. You are supporting an organization that believes deeply in changing for whom, by whom and how stories can be told. You are supporting a vital creative space that provides the educational foundation, the artistic sustainability, and the cinematic vision of artists to our community. You are supporting a group that is an integral part of the larger ecosystem of arts and media nationally and internationally.

I am a current Museum member, will NWFC benefits and access be integrated?

As the Museum continues to present more exhibitions that blend art, cinema, new media, and storytelling, we welcome members with discounts, special programs and more. We are looking to streamline and modernize our offerings in the coming years. Stay tuned for more.

How will members be affected when the Whitsell closes during construction of the Rothko Pavilion?

We are actively looking for theatre and alternative venue spaces to continue our programming  and will announce how this will work in early 2021.

Why are members being asked to pay for tickets, programs, etc. at this time?

We are thankful for members who continue to support us; it is vital. We acknowledge that our world is no longer the same—and neither are NWFC membership benefits. Cinema and our offerings are not the same. Distributors and filmmakers are offering new models. And NWFC and the Museum are not the same. The NWFC and the Museum have seen a major reduction to our budgets and staffing. Our revenue-generating exhibition, programs, education services, and equipment rental programs have been severely reduced due to COVID-19. In order to sustain our Center for the future, pay our team equitably, and continue to provide as many core services to the community as we can, we must operate in different ways than audiences have been used to.

Will membership be extended during this time?

Yes. We will extend existing memberships until December 2020. At that time, we will assess for what membership will look like going forward.

I’d like to become a member and/or support NWFC’s mission to change by whom, for whom and how cinematic stories are told. What are my options?

Thank you! The best way at this moment is to support us with a donation. You can become a member at many different levels, but please note that we are in the process of modernizing and changing our offerings for 2021 and beyond.

Where do I go when I have questions?

The Museum’s membership department is the best spot to learn more or ask questions about NWFC, the Museum or expanding membership opportunities. Please contact membership@pam.org or 503-276-4249.



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.