WHAT IS AN AFFINITY SPACE?
An affinity space is a space specifically set aside so that people who share a specific identity or commonality can gather together in an atmosphere of inherent shared understanding and fellowship centered around that specific identity. That identity might be designated around race, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, language, religion, socio- economic class, etc. An affinity space can be an opportunity for underrepresented or otherwise marginalized populations to talk about their experiences and share wisdom, offer support and create community.
WHO CAN BE PART OF AN AFFINITY GROUP?
Having been built around a specific identity, only members of that group can be part of it. This is because an affinity group serves as a kind of shorthand. When you enter such a group, it is a given that much about the lives and experiences of everyone in the room is already understood and doesn’t have to be explained, and that shared understanding and lived experience will engender an environment of welcome and support.
WHY DOES PROFILE THEATRE CREATE AFFINITY SPACES?
It is Profile Theatre’s intention to be an organization that actively promotes equity, inclusion, anti-racism and social justice. Theatre is built around the locus points of story and community. Affinity groups provide another means for Profile to actively use those same elements to help us achieve our social justice goals. So often, the question is, “What can we do to offer assistance, succor, welcome to underrepresented or even actively marginalized communities? How do we ensure that we are are serving the most expansive vision of Portland possible?” Affinity spaces are one way to achieve that.
WHAT ARE AFFINITY NIGHTS?
Affinity nights are one way that we choose to make underrepresented communities welcome in the Profile space. How do we let these communities know that we see them and care about them, and that what we bring to the table is for them as well? We do it by offering some special food, beverages and door prizes that speak to that given community. We do these things because oftentimes these groups have been made to feel unwelcome and even in danger in Portland, or Oregon in general. We want to make sure that Profile Theatre is seen as an ally to these groups and is providing a space as free from danger, large and small, as possible.
For more information on the necessity of affinity spaces, please read this article shared by the Lark out of New York City: https://www.larktheatre.org/blog/lets-be-together-affinity-space-theater/
WHAT OTHER AFFINITY SPACES DOES PROFILE CREATE?
Our Community Profile program is an affinity space built around the structure of a free writing workshop. We identify a community that our featured writer is intimately concerned with or a member of, and we build a cohort from there. Once a month, we bring in accomplished and award-winning writers from around the city or around the country and have them lead a three-hour writing workshop for that cohort. The cohort is also given free tickets to all of our programming, be it virtual or in person, and when we meet live, we even provide some food and beverages.
We know that our audiences and sponsors support our attempts to be more than just a theatre company that puts on plays, that is an active force for positive change in the world and we appreciate your courage and your generosity of spirit.
WHO IS OUR COMMUNITY PROFILE AFFINITY GROUP THIS YEAR?
This year we are serving BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) queer youth, aged 16-24. Neither number on either end is strictly set. We won’t turn away a child who’s 15 or a young adult who’s 25. If you know someone who qualifies and would benefit from a program like this, please have them sign up by completing this form. Or, if you or they have any questions about Community Profile or affinity spaces, please contact Bobby Bermea, Director of Community Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.