2017 in Review, P.2: PORT

This blog is the second in Slender-White's 3-part series of reflections on his work with FACT/SF in 2017.

Written by Charles Slender-White

Just a few months ago, I wrote about the promise of PORT (Peer Organized Regional Touring). I tried to place PORT in the context of FACT/SF’s previous touring experiences, explained why the West Coast contemporary dance sector desperately needed an organized structure for regional touring, and described what I hoped PORT would do. We published that blog on August 21, 2017.

PORT launched in San Francisco from September 14-16, and in Los Angeles from September 29-30. We worked in collaboration with the LA Contemporary Dance Company and ODC Theater. And, it’s exciting for me to report two things:

1.) PORT was a massive success.

2.) Over 80% of PORT’s expenses were covered by FACT/SF’s individual donors. 

Remains  for PORT 2017; Photo by Gema Galina

Remains for PORT 2017; Photo by Gema Galina

PORT’s Success (The Program)

From a quantitative point of view, PORT 2017 included:

  • 3 performances in San Francisco
  • 2 performances in Los Angeles
  • 1 community meeting
  • 2 master classes
  • 3 world premieres
  • 4 regional premieres
  • Paid work for more than 20 artists

PORT deftly accomplished its main goal of creating a new way for two companies and two cities to come together. It provided FACT/SF with the opportunity to bring our work to Los Angeles, and gave us the chance to expose our Bay Area audiences to work from the LA Contemporary Dance Company. It created dialogues about the aesthetic and cultural differences of our regions, and brought artists directly together so that they could learn from each other. PORT provided significant benefit to everyone involved. Our concerts received critical praise, too. Here’s a review of the San Francisco performances by Heather Desaulniers, and here’s one of the Los Angeles performances by Jeff Slayton.

We did it!

Remains  for PORT 2017; Photo by Gema Galina

Remains for PORT 2017; Photo by Gema Galina

PORT’s Success (The Supporters)

Whenever I imagine something new for FACT/SF - a new piece of choreography or a new initiative - I’m immediately confronted by the need to find the money. Sometimes it’s a lot of money and sometimes it’s not, but it’s always a reality that must be dealt with. Finding the money is the most persistent challenge that FACT/SF faces.

For programs that have yet to launch, finding funding is especially challenging. Private foundations and government agencies are reluctant to take a risk on a program’s pilot year because there isn’t yet a solid track record. And without initial funding, it can seem entirely unclear how to get started in the first place. Though we did not receive any grants to support the first year of PORT, I knew it was worth doing and I was determined to make it happen.

This is where the FACT/SF Family comes in.

Remains  for PORT 2017; Photo by Gema Galina

Remains for PORT 2017; Photo by Gema Galina

Each of our Family members provides significant resources. They buy tickets to the shows and bring their friends to witness what we’ve made. They give us money throughout the year to support our work and broaden our impact.

These resources, and this Family, provide the support for me to take creative and organizational risks. As FACT/SF’s Artistic Director, I feel consistently and continuously fortified by our community. And, PORT is a perfect example of the power of working together. The FACT/SF Family underwrote 80% of PORT’s expenses - there’s no way we could have done it without you.

The FACT/SF Family offers money, and they offer confidence and encouragement, too. Confidence in my abilities and knowledge, and encouragement for me to continue imagining how things could be both different and better. Our community, our artists, and our partners are accomplishing great things together. It’s such a privilege to be working amongst such brilliant, dedicated, and generous people. Thank you for turning PORT, and all of the other FACT/SF dreams, into something real. 

Remains  for PORT 2017; Photo by Gema Galina

Remains for PORT 2017; Photo by Gema Galina

PORT 2017 offered five performances and a whole lot more. Going forward as a model for exchange, PORT also offers a radical shift for the dance communities in Southern California, the Bay Area, Portland, and Seattle. It’s pretty thrilling to realize that we’re developing an important and unique model, and creating new touring capacity for the entire field. We’ll start rolling out PORT up and down the West Coast in 2018.

Get excited, and stay tuned.


Charles Slender-White is the Artistic Director of FACT/SF. He has created dozens of original dance works, is a Certified Countertechnique Teacher, and has performed and taught across North America, Europe, Russia, and in Hong Kong and Australia. Slender-White started his career with Provincial Dances Theatre (Yekaterinburg, Russia), and received his BA in English Literature and Dance & Performance Studies from UC Berkeley.