We’re Celebrating 50 Years of Arts, Culture and Community

Shaun Swick

For the past fifty years, it has been our pleasure to provide audiences with performance programs, festival guides and magazines that reflect and enhance the organizations of our community.

Although you may not know it, Encore has published many of the programs that you’ve read at performances throughout the Greater Seattle Area and the San Francisco Bay Area. Encore has become an established partner to arts organizations throughout these communities, and to celebrate the 50th anniversary, we talk to the president of Encore, Paul Heppner, about Encore’s history, its purpose, and the arts communities Encore serves.  

Ciara Caya: Fifty years is quite the milestone. Can you tell me a bit about how Encore was founded?

Paul Heppner: My dad, Philbrook Heppner, loved music, arts and, most of all, the opera. After having worked as an architect, he made a career change that brought his passion for the arts to fill a need in the Portland performing arts scene by launching Encore Magazine for the Arts. That quickly evolved into the programs for Portland Opera and Encore arts programs.

Partnerships with arts organizations are essential to your business—how did those relationships start?

Librettos and theatre programs were commonplace, especially in Europe where my dad collected many souvenir programs. Creating programs (typesetting, layout and printing) in those days was extremely labor intensive and performing arts organizations were not set up to handle the production necessary, so a mutually beneficial service model was developed.

Publisher and President of Encore Paul Heppner

Having worked with Encore since you were a young man, you’ve seen better than most the changes that have occurred in Seattle’s arts community—the good and the bad. How has Encore adapted amongst these changes?

We were just talking about this the other day—when I arrived in Seattle in 1985, state of the art was an IBM Selectric typewriter! The outstanding thing to note over the years has been the appreciable growth in depth and quality of the performing arts, as well as the breadth and sophistication of the respective audiences.

Interestingly enough, even with the advent of the internet in our data driven world, the theatre program has remained a cherished part of the live performance experience. Unlike the mass media (print, digital or electronic) attending a live performance is enhanced by simply turning the pages and reading a program that gives you compelling and thoughtful content about the people and the performances—it truly can make the event transformative.

As the publisher of arts organizations’ programs, Encore is usually (pardon the pun) behind the scenes. In what other ways are you and Encore involved with the Seattle community and with the arts organizations you partner with?  

We’re extremely proud to have had the privilege to work with, and support through our work, numerous organizations outside the performing arts world. Last year we were an integral part of a team of committed arts leaders to work with Seattle Foundation to transition and insure the future of GiveBIG (the annual day of philanthropy). We’ve been long-time supporters and fans of SIFF and believe in our work with, and support of Seattle Pride. This year we were thrilled to begin working with Seafair and all that it represents to our city and region. Over the years we’ve also provided support to smaller organizations—one of our favorites is Music4Life because of its impact on the lives of young people in our public schools.

So, now that you have the first 50 under your belt, what’s on stage for the next 50?

We’ve learned that the fulcrum for evolving our business centers on providing services that connect the arts, culture and our community. We recognize and are excited to play a leading role in supporting the great works of organizations that are transforming and building this region. We believe that finding smart ways to integrate media in meaningful ways for consumers is key, and we are focused on developing products and programs that expand and enhance opportunities for all of our stakeholders. We’ve recently launched encorespotlight.com to start addressing the distressing lack of arts coverage in major media. Through this website we are also continuing our work with youth, having partnered in part with the amazing Press Corps at TeenTix to provide both a platform (in print and digitally) for these amazing young journalists.