Ashley’s wardrobe provided by Mercantile Portland. The Duniway Portland and Mercantile Portland are proud supporters of the arts. /


The spark of inspiration was a class play in kindergarten. Cast as the Wizard in the The Wizard and the Great Greyness, Ashley Coates shined. Her parents, loving but quite worn out from their daughter’s perpetual motion and unending song, made their move. Fortunately, it was the early ’90s, and Northwest Children’s Theater had just come on the scene. With acting lessons to fan the flames, Coates developed a full-blown passion for theater arts.

That passion and a few notable moments of serendipity have put Coates in place to launch Opening This Week in Artslandia, a regular series of features on KATU’s AM Northwest and Afternoon Live.

When NWCT launched Kid’s Company NW, Coates became one of the earliest members of the audition-only troupe of young singers and dancers. From the company’s mainstage shows, to Lincoln High School musicals, to drama classes at University of Oregon, Coates blossomed as a performer. After earning a paying-job-friendly degree in journalism, Coates moved to Seattle where she continued her stage training and landed roles with Seattle Musical Theatre and Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham, Washington.

Upon moving back to her hometown Portland, Coates began exploring the world of live jazz and cabaret as a vocalist. Another stroke of good fortune came when her path crossed with that of Misty Tompoles, founder and publisher of Artslandia. Tompoles, inspired by an L.A. cab ride with a headrest iPad program of upcoming concerts, was scheming on how to bring a performing arts version to Portland. “When I met Ashley, I knew she’d be the perfect broadcast host. I brought her on to the Artslandia team, but it took two solid years before we were able to launch the idea here,” explained Tompoles. “It was serendipitous that the timing lined up with KATU’s plans for Arts2You segments to expand arts coverage on the station. We were finally ready to roll out Opening This Week in Artslandia, a video arts calendar with Ashley as the host. A natural partnership was formed.”

The new Coates-hosted video arts calendar will air on KATU and include locally based performing arts features, backstage previews, and artist interviews. Artslandia already reaches the majority of existing arts patrons as the leading arts and culture publisher in the Pacific Northwest. The additional reach of video segments on KATU will now provide Artslandia content to a majority of households in Northwest Oregon.

Rose City arts decision-makers are enthusiastic about this opportunity to showcase upcoming performances to a larger audience. Oregon Symphony CEO Scott Showalter shared, “I am pleased to participate in bringing this new arts coverage to the Portland area. “The lifeblood of a dynamic arts scene is an informed and eager audience, and we are happy to grow and educate our audience about the bounty that exists on every stage in Oregon.”

Opening This Week in Artslandia

Opening this Week will air Wednesdays on KATU’s AM Northwest from 9–10 a.m. and Afternoon Live from 3–4 p.m. You can also find it at Artslandia email subscribers will have it delivered to their inbox each Tuesday. Make sure you are a subscriber!