What's New

Jul 10, 2020
The Show Must Go Online!


A dozen youth performers from Upstart Crow Children’s Theatre, a local all-youth performing arts company, are proud to premiere their very first online “Zoomsical,” The Show Must Go Online! This 40-minute online musical is presented through special arrangement with Beat by Beat Press (www.bbbpress.com). The authors of The Show Must Go Online! created this musical in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as a way for actors to work together as an ensemble in Zoom rehearsals to put on a show, while staying safe in their own homes.

Ticketing: Viewing our debut online musical theatre production is FREE but we are accepting donations to help sustain our program during this difficult time for the performing arts. Donate: HERE or on the Upstart Crow Facebook page.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the social value of art has never mattered more. As schools close, physical distancing requirements are enforced, and longstanding arts organizations shut their doors, families need access to enrichment opportunities that are safe, affordable, and accessible. Most importantly, in the creative work they undertake with others, youth are practicing hope; through the arts, they are actively combatting feelings of isolation, helplessness, and disconnection.

Upstart Crow Studios is committed to providing access to performing arts programming so that children in our community can continue to play, learn, and develop vital skills that we know dramatically improve the quality of their lives. By ensuring all youth can access and benefit from high quality performing arts experiences and by supporting young people as they uncover their potential and cultivate a deeply-held passion for the arts, Upstart Crow continues to fulfill a vital need in our community.

We need community support more than ever before from people who value youth programming that builds confidence and leadership in settings that encourage differences, accepts everyone and promotes diversity.

Your gift in this time of unprecedented crisis in the arts helps us maintain critical programming and scholarship opportunities as well as cover our ongoing overhead until we are once again, able to return to the stage. For now, The Show Must Go... Online!

THE SHOW MUST GO ONLINE! A Virtual Children’s Musical
Book by Jessica Penzias

Lyrics by Dave Hudson
Music by Denver Casado

Directed by Emily Garrett
Vocal Direction by Jill Switzer
Stage Manager Anastasia Newell
Video editing by Heidi Knight Meigs

Jun 06, 2020
Well meaning is not enough

Michelle Obama - "Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own."

Well meaning. Color blind.

In this time of cultural crisis these phrases ring hollow, yet they’re words I’ve used to describe myself and my work at Upstart Crow for years.

Today, well-meaning is not enough. Honestly, it has never been enough. Identifying myself or this organization as well meaning means I’m committed to keeping the blinders on. Well meaning means I’m more invested in defending the status quo than I am in dismantling racist thinking and systems. Systemic racism is not a theoretical conversation to our black students, families, and community members. It is, as Michelle Obama described, a daily reality that black youth learn to "just deal with." This is unacceptable.

One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, talks about the difference between being a knower and being a learner. Being a knower is about “being right.” Being a learner is about “getting it right.”

Brown says, “having to be the “knower” or always being right is heavy armor. It’s defensiveness, it’s posturing, and, worst of all, it’s a huge driver of bullshit. It’s also very common—most of us have some degree of knower in us. Unfortunately, needing to know everything is pretty miserable for the knowers and everyone around them. It leads to distrust, bad decisions, and unnecessary, unproductive conflict.”

I’m coming to realize that the mission of Upstart Crow, up to this point, has been more about knowing and being right and congratulating ourselves on the effectiveness of our mission than it has been about getting it right by actively asking for feedback from the community we serve. Again, we are "well-meaning" but unwilling to take off the blinders and ask for feedback with an open heart and mind.

I’m ready to commit to being a “learner” and facilitating a culture of “getting it right” at Upstart Crow. I don’t want to make the mistake, going forward, of assuming that we “know” our policies, our mission, and programming are actually upholding our goals of accessibility and inclusion.

Going forward, we will hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard. We are working to further educate our staff and teachers. We can facilitate direct conversation about racism with children. We can create opportunities for anti-racist role-playing in our programming

I welcome and encourage you to hold us to a higher standard as well.

We are ready to listen. I’m extending an invitation to open communication. I would like to hear from our community - those we have served as well as those who can identify barriers to participating. Please feel free to reach out to me directly at heidi@upstartcrowstudios.org. If you’d like to have a conversation, I welcome your phone call. In the near future I’d love to sit down for a cup of socially distanced coffee together.

We stand with our black families and students. Black Lives Matter.

Heidi Knight Meigs
Artistic Director


May 16, 2020
Summer 2020 Update

Dear Crow Family,

What a cliff-hanger!
The last couple of months have been a time like no other in the history of Upstart Crow. Sure, we’ve had down times over the years. We’ve had our troubles and we’ve had shakeups. But nothing could have prepared us for the year that has been 2020. 

The Universe Hit Pause
The whirlwind of activity at Upstart Crow all came to a screeching halt in the middle of March. With an unknown level of a highly contagious virus circulating in our community followed by the state-wide stay at home orders, we were left with no choice but to cancel our spring theatre classes and our remaining Wizard of Oz performances, and to postpone our productions of Footloose and Annie JRUpstart Crow Spring Covid-19 Announcement

We want to thank our Crow families and patrons for their continued support during this challenging time! We appreciate your emails expressing support, the offers to volunteer in whatever capacity we need, and for your generous donations.

It’s just an intermission
Our goal has been to push our planned Spring theatre productions (Footloose, Annie JR) into Summer or Fall terms. We canceled all of our Spring theatre classes and team rehearsals. Registration for our Summer camps has remained open. However, the tuition deposit for Summer camps was reduced from 50% to a flat $25. As of this time, registration remains open for our camps in their original formats. The balance for all Summer camp tuition payments will not be due until the first day of each scheduled camp. 

Since our announcement at the end of March, we have been anxiously awaiting for a green light from the State of Oregon to open our doors again in any capacity and especially for operational guidance for Summer camps from Oregon Health Authority. The new Phase 1 guidelines announced this week do allow us to continue with our plans for Summer Camps, albeit with smaller groups in addition to a plethora of health and safety guidelines. These guidelines were made available to us as of yesterday, May 15th. 

We are currently working hard to create a safe environment for our Summer Camp participants. We're evaluating our resources, including our physical space, staffing, and how we can adapt our programming in light of all the new requirements that include staff training, health screenings, physical distancing, limits on group sizes, and stringent cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Act II
Things are changing fast. “Fluid” is the word that best describes any plans that theaters, youth organizations, schools, and other businesses are creating as they grapple with ever changing public health projections and expectations. 


Our immediate plans are to:

  1. Restructure our Summer camps in accordance with the new health and safety guidelines and to notify current and prospective camp families of the necessary changes in the structure of our offerings.

  2. Explore the possibility of virtual Summer programming, such as theatre classes or virtual performances.

  3. Create a flexible and dynamic roadmap for the future of Upstart Crow that maintains the spirit of our organization while anticipating and planning for the challenges of a volatile and unpredictable public health crisis during our 2020-21 season. Please continue to watch your email and check our website, Facebook, and Instagram pages for updates.  

Please know that the teachers and administration of Upstart Crow are constantly thinking about all of our Crow kids and we are desperate to share the stage with them again as soon as safely possible. We miss all of our performers, from our Broadway Babies and Tots, to our Acting and Song & Dance classes, the outgoing cast of Wizard of Oz, the current cast members of Footloose, those eager to audition for Annie JR, and our Overture and Stage Door team members and families. 


Heidi Knight Meigs
Artistic Director


Apr 02, 2020
COVID-19 Update

Dear Crow families and patrons,

First and foremost, we want you to know that we are thinking of you and hoping you are all healthy and safe. During this public health crisis our first concern is that you are taking care of yourself and finding ways to connect with your loved ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic has required us all to take unprecedented precautions. We are continually assessing the future of our spring and summer seasons as new information emerges from the CDC and national, state, and local governments. At this point, Upstart Crow is left with no choice but to cancel our spring theatre classes and remaining Wizard of Oz performances, as well as postpone our current productions of Footloose and Annie JR.

As a small nonprofit arts organization, this necessary step places Upstart Crow in a very tough situation financially. We have laid off our entire staff. Those who are working now are doing so as volunteers. Even though our doors are temporarily closed, we continue to incur basic monthly expenses, such as rent, utilities, and other business expenses. Those expenses will soon exceed our cash on-hand.

This is nothing compared to the risk of loss of human life. However, such extreme losses coming all at once threaten our survival as an organization. In the nonprofit arts industry, profit margins are slim, and we invest roughly 90% of the cost of an event up front, funds we cannot recover. When events are cancelled, refunding the related revenue results in a complete loss.

In this unprecedented and unexpected moment, we are asking our community to rally around us.

At this time our goal is to push our current theatre productions (Footloose, Annie JR) into Summer or Fall. All Spring classes are canceled. Registrations for our Summer camps remain open. However, we have reduced the required tuition deposit for Summer camps from 50% to a flat $25. The balance for Summer camp tuition will not be due until the first day of each scheduled camp. We will continue to evaluate new information from the CDC and national, state, and local governments as we begin to plan our Spring, Summer, and Fall offerings and will update you with any plans at the beginning of May.

Here are 4 ways YOU can invest in the future of Upstart Crow Studios right now:

1.     Become a monthly sustaining donor. Setting up an automatic
payment with your credit card is easy, and you can cancel at any time.
Email our office at info@upstartcrowstudios.org for details.

2.     Make a one-time gift to Upstart Crow Studios on our website at
www.upstartcrowstudios.org. We will gratefully send you a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.

3.     Donate back the value of your purchase for tickets to Wizard of
Oz or spring tuition to support Upstart Crow. We will gratefully send you a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.

4.     Accept a credit toward or pay in advance for a future
production  or class. We are offering a 25% bonus to those who accept a credit for Spring tuition for canceled spring classes, productions, or tickets to performances (Wizard of Oz). We also have online gift certificates available for 25% off that may be used toward future classes or productions.

*Tuition credits will be applied to your account for future classes or productions. Example: Accept a credit to be applied to your account for a canceled Spring class $155 tuition, receive a credit for $193.75.

*Credits for tickets purchased for Wizard of Oz will be issued as a redeemable code to use toward future ticket purchases or may be credited toward your student’s account to use toward future classes or productions. Example: Accept a credit for a canceled performance $12 ticket, receive a credit for $15.

*Online gift certificates are available in any amount. Example:
Purchase a gift certificate for $50 and you will receive an online gift certificate redeemable for $62.50.

If you are a ticket-holder for Wizard of Oz, or if your student is registered for any of our Spring classes or productions, please check your email for a survey request to let us know how we may best serve you.

We love our Crow families. We love what we do. Over the last 20 years, we have heard countless stories of the profound impact our program has made in the lives of youth in our community. We have endured many difficulties over our history and have emerged stronger for it.

Through your caring generosity, we will continue to work together to serve our community. YOU are the reason Upstart Crow Studios will remain a vital youth arts organization beyond this extraordinary time.

Thank you for your help in ensuring a future for Upstart Crow Studios and preserving a place in our community where “every child plays a role.”

Please be aware the Upstart Crow email account is being monitored by a single volunteer staff member. Please be patient if you have a question and don’t hear back from us right away.


Heidi Knight Meigs
Artistic Director

Michelle Cady
Lynne Given
Peggy Whalen
Barbi McLain
Upstart Crow Board of Directors