Our initiatives shift to reflect the changing needs of our ever evolving world.

See what we’ve been up to! 


(2022 – Present)

This year we are also excited to announce our newest partnership with Artist Repertory Theatre (ART), which will produce a new mentorship program: PATHWAYS. Launching summer 2022, PATHWAYS is a 2-year holistic mentorship and professional development program for emerging BIPOC gender-diverse theatre artists in the Portland area.

Arriving after the success of AGE’s 2021 IGNITE mentorship program, PATHWAYS is co-created and developed by Minita Gandhi (IGNITE Founder) and Melory Mirashrafi (Associate Director of DNA: Oxygen at ART). The program uses Gandhi’s collaborative pairing model, comprised of a pairing committee representative of the community it serves and a process that prioritizes the creation and maintenance of an environment where artists have the opportunities and resources to achieve their full potential. PATHWAYS is produced by DNA: Oxygen, ART’s BIPOC artist lab and affinity space, offering creative enrichment and community building to artists pursuing a professional career in theatre, and creating a “pathway” to professional development grounded in IGNITE’s values of shared experience, cultivation, and expansion. All participants will be paid hourly and equitably for their contributions. 

To read the full press release: click here!

Applications and details about the 2022-2024 PATHWAYS program will be available this spring. Interested applicants will be asked to submit a brief questionnaire as well as a flexible creative statement. To learn more, please visit, or contact Melory Mirashrafi (


2021 marked the inaugural launch of IGNITE. IGNITE was a thought partnership program, in which emerging women and non-binary BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artists were paired with women and non-binary BIPOC National Theatre Leaders. Through this partnership, we aimed to create a brave space for shared experience, cultivation and expansion.

The Three Pillars


We recognize that while we are all having experiences that are wholly our own, we as BIPOC artists do have a unique lived experience in society and in the arts. One of the foundations of this program is to provide a space where women and non-binary BIPOC artists can have a point of connection with someone who has shared lived experience as BIPOC. We recognize the labor the current climate is placing on us and we honor and welcome a place where we don’t have to explain or educate. We hope that this connection can be that space and a place for your shared experiences.


Through these connections we hope we can cultivate the practice of drawing a new line of inheritance. Many of us have inherited our knowledge and education from predominantly white sources. What happens when we draw knowledge and education from each other? We believe it will empower both parties in the conversation. As a collective community of women and non-binary BIPOC artists developing this progrma, we have experienced the power of these conversations. We are excited to cultivate these conversations for the women and non-binary BIPOC arts community at large.


There is much language that strives to make the global majority appear diminutive as a “minority” or “marginalized community”. What happens when we can be in a room and take up space? We naturally take up space when we feel seen and heard. What ahppens when we mobilize connection and collaboration between woemand non-binary BIPOC artists? IGNITE invests in the resilience of women and non-binary BIPOC artists for the purpose of make art more just, sustainable, and representative. We believe access dismantles power structures, and builds confidence. We hope this is an expansive experience for all of you in many ways.

Post-Program Testimonial
“Many of us have not had the opportunity to have a mentor who looks like us. Prior mentors tend to be white and male. This program really explores what it means to draw a new line of inheritance based on shared experience, to cultivate community, and to allow for expansion as individuals and artists.”

– Minita Gandhi, AGE National Program Director and IGNITE Founder

“I am so grateful for spending time with Gabrielle, and I feel really lucky that she was the person I was able to pair with. When we first met, I had recently relocated permanently from Portland to Chicago. Gabrielle went above and beyond in helping me scope for opportunities, including helping me connect directly with her own friends and colleagues.  I felt very comforted by this, actually, like, oh, this is what mentorship looks like–trying to be responsive to your questions and needs.”

– Marilou Carerra

“My path as an artist has been enriched immeasurably by the mentors in my life. To uplift, share and connect with “emerging” artists is an essential part of my practice. I not only share and listen, but I learn so much as well. It’s a win-win.”

– Sandra Delgado

“I was extremely happy when I learned that I was accepted into the IGNITE program. Navigating the professional arts community as a person of the global majority can be often difficult and challenging, especially when you are new to the United States. It is hard to find spaces that feel fully welcoming and caring. IGNITE is definitely one of them. My time with my mentor, Monica, has helped me develop a deeper and positive understanding of my worth as an artist, and has even given me the tools to fight back! I am beyond grateful to her and to the AGE team for this life-changing experience.”

– Arantxa Chavez


Building off the original success of the AGE WOC PDX Theatre Collective, The goal of this program is to bridge a collective experience between emerging artists in our community and industry leaders that fosters collaboration and accessibility for BIPOC artists. We seek to provide an anti-racist, non-patriarchal, LGBTQ+ affirming space to authentically discuss challenges presented to the BIPOC community, explore avenues for leadership, and find ways to challenge the predominantly white patriarchal structures in the arts.





Hear Our Voice Showcase


Hear Our Voice Showcase

Old Church Speaker Series


TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2018 AT 7 PM – 10 PM – We Can Listen: Spotlight on Equity in Theater[%7B%22surface%22%3A%22page%22%7D]%7D


Theatre was meant to tell the truth about life and the social situation (Stella Adler). What if theatre is not telling the truth about life? What if theatre is not relevant to the social situation? Artists who live and work in the margins of mainstream theatre will talk about the obstacles that they experience and their perseverance in making socially conscious art. Join us for an inspiring and transformative conversation as we spotlight equity as the cornerstone of art and of humanity.


MONDAY, APRIL 9, 2018 AT 2 PM – 4 PM Telling Native Stories to Rehumanize Native Peoples[%7B%22surface%22%3A%22page%22%7D]%7D


It’s a ground breaking convergence of award-winning, distinguished native playwrights. The three playwrights will participate in an AGE panel discussion! Moderated by Jacqueline Keeler, the panel will focus on social justice, and how telling Native stories can be used to re-humanize native peoples.


TUESDAY, APRIL 16, 2019 AT 7 PM – 9 PM  We Can Listen: The Future is Fluid[%7B%22surface%22%3A%22page%22%7D]%7D

What does it mean to be transgender? What is the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity? Why is transgender equality so important?

Join us for The Future is Fluid, Developing Fluency in a Nonbinary World, an evening of personal expression facilitated by Jenn Burleton, founder of TransActive Gender Center. You are invited to listen as teenage girls engage in conversation about their own journeys of transition.

The TOC “We Can Listen” event includes music by Acchord and a “look to the future” panel discussion with professionals in academia, healthcare and advocacy.

The collective

“Sisterhood is a verb. I am here if you ever need me.”

– Tayllor Johnson


The AGE WOC (Women od Color) PDX Theatre Collective was created in November 2019 to build the resiliency of women and non-binary people of color working in Portland Theatre. Our inter-generational mentorship program paired early-career theatre women of color (WOC) artists with WOC artist mentors. This Collective prioritized the voices of queer, black, brown, indigenous, disabled, undocumented, trans, and non-binary theatre artists by supporting the artistic empowerment and professional development of our diverse communities. 

Unconscious Bias Symposium


In 2017, AGE in the Arts partnered with Portland State University (PSU) and its office of Global Diversity and Inclusion to present the symposium, Unconscious Bias: Achieving Gender Equity. This unique two-day event provided a multigenerational, multicultural, and multidisciplinary focus on unconscious gender bias – its impact on our lives, our choices, and the art we create.

Experts on gender bias and the performing arts headlined keynote events, plenary and breakout sessions throughout the conference. Theatre leaders and decision makers; artists in theatre, film and entertainment; future theatre leaders and students; and advocates of equity in the arts and culture were all invited to participate. 

Through this symposium, AGE and PSU were able to raise awareness of unconscious gender bias and its impact on the arts and culture, stimulate transformation, and facilitate an action plan for achieving gender equity in the arts.


The New House Group aimed at introducing a younger and more diverse audience to local theatre. 

Led by AGE Senior Leader, Yasmin Ruvalcaba, AGE invited local individuals and organizations to go see plays together as a group, with a pay-what-you-can model (free-$10). We attended plays as a group to ensure new theatre attendees would feel welcomed and supported, and we would follow-up the plays with snacks, drinks, and a group discussion. We would talk about what we saw on stage – how did we see or not see equity represented on stage – and afterward would draft up a report on behalf of the group to share with the artistic directors of the theatre companies. We had an established group of attendees. But we also reached out to other non-profits and took groups from there to see the performances. In total we went to see about 15 shows and created a lasting local community of theatre-goers. 


Led by AGE founder, Jane Vogel Mantiri, Advanced Conversations was an affinity space for women who identify in the second half of their life. The group explored what it means to advance in age, wisdom, and experience, and the simultaneous challenges for recognition when opportunities become fewer. Together we can support, validate, empower, and encourage new discoveries.

AGE Equity Grants


Between 2015-2019, Advance Gender Equity in the Arts (AGE) awarded over $250,000 in grants to professional Portland metro-area theatre companies that demonstrated a commitment to intersectional gender equity in playwriting, directing, casting, and designing. 

It was important that AGE not only reward others for intersectional gender equity, but also that we adhere to it ourselves. The AGE grant review committees were comprised of 60% or more people of color, trans and nonbinary people and people with disabilities. The review committees scored and interviewed applicants, and chose the recipients of the grants. 

Theatre leaders are stating that the AGE Equity grant application process has made them more aware of bias in their programming and production of art, and has changed the way they are making casting, programming, and hiring decisions.


At the end of 2019, AGE decided that these Portland theaters needed to carry on their equity efforts without monetary incentives. We are pleased to report that local theatre companies are still showing long-term and sustainable efforts commitments to intersectional gender equity in playwriting, directing, casting, and designing. The grants made a resurgence at the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, providing emergency funds to struggling theaters/entities. The AGE Equity Grant program ceased to exist by the end of 2020. 

Learn about the 2019 AGE Equity Grants and Recipients.

Learn about the 2018 AGE Equity Grants and Recipients.

Learn about the 2016 & 2017 AGE in the Arts Awards Recipients.

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