Portland’5 Centers for Arts Reduces Scheduling Time By 2 Weeks

A case study outlining how Portland'5 Centers for the Arts moved away from scheduling on paper and reduced scheduling time by using Celayix shift-scheduling and time & attendance software.


Portland’5 Centers for the Arts

Portland’5 Centers for the Arts is the fifth largest performing arts center in the US. Located in the vibrant downtown cultural district, Portland’5 Centers for the Arts supports Portland’s thriving arts community, hosting world-class music, theater, dance, lectures, and more. 

Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

Industry: Events/Venues

Size: 500-1000 employees/volunteers


Every month, Portland’5 hosts dozens of events across its five theatres, a convention center, and an exposition center. Bill Looker, the admissions staffing manager, builds out employee schedules based on event needs, staff availability, and union requirements. Scheduling was similar to completing a puzzle, taking two weeks of each month to plan out. 

There were a variety of roles to take into account in the scheduling process: ushers, greeters, gate people, lead supervisors, office assistants, tour guides, and gift shop attendants. For perspective, this equated to 2500-3000 shifts for its 150 part-time union employees, and an additional 1000-2000 shifts for its 550 volunteers. Union rules required staff with seniority to receive higher priority when it came to shifting. Staff and volunteers were also a diverse group ranging from college students to seniors, varying in shift preferences and availability. Staff and volunteers also needed to physically come into the facility to make any updates to their availabilities. 

Once Looker pieced together employee schedules, staff would receive their schedules in the mail. Margie Humphreys, Volunteer Coordinator, had a different process for volunteer schedules, and sent out two mailings each month. This method was not only costly but also time-consuming.

Portland’5 realized there had to be a better way for managing scheduling.


Celayix offered Portland’5 an all-in-one solution that transformed their paper-based processes into a easy digital process. 

Working with the Celayix team, Looker and Humphreys were able to implement different scheduling rules for staff and volunteers. 

The Celayix system allowed both staff and volunteers to update their availability, and receive schedule updates, all online. For Looker and Humphreys, they were able to automate schedule creation with Celayix, all while following specific requirements. 

“Other software systems were nowhere near what Celayix had to offer”, Looker said. “It can handle our seniority rules, allows for real-time employee schedule updates online and fits our needs better than anyone else.”

“Celayix helps keep our volunteers organized and provides a level of accountability that we did not have before with paper employee schedules”, said Humphreys.

“Now, it takes me just one day to create schedules compared to nearly two weeks before. It’s like a dream.”

Bill Looker, Admissions Staffing Manager


Smooth transition from paper-based processes to Celayix

Managers easily learned the system over the course of a week. For those who had “never touched a computer”, they were able to learn the system quickly.

“We trained 150 part-time staff and over 400 volunteers in one week, with a 99 percent success rate – even with people who didn’t know what a mouse was!” Looker said. “Now they can sit at home in their pajamas with a cup of coffee and enter their availability. They don’t have to go anywhere and can print out their employee schedules from home.”

Employee scheduling time reduced from nearly two weeks to one day each month

True to expectation, the team worked with Celayix to customize the business rules regarding theater staff scheduling and then automated actual employee schedule creation. The software ensures that Portland’5 schedules everyone fairly according to a mix of criteria, including seniority, availability, requested time off, leaves of absence, peak days and “free pass” days that employees can take at any time.

Today, Portland’5 has dramatically reduced the time to create employee schedules each month. Looker also has more time at work to do the rest of his job, such as managing, hiring and any personnel issues that arise.“Now, it takes me just one day to create employee schedules compared to nearly two weeks before. It’s like a dream,” he said.

Improved communication between management and staff

Employees and volunteers now access theater staff schedules faster now by going online to the portal, rather than having to go to PCPA. Plus, the information is always accurate, compared to before when paper employee schedules could be outdated before Looker and Humphreys could make changes to them. Even those initially unsure about the switch wouldn’t go back to the old way.

Using Celayix over their old paper-based processes saved Portland’5 a significant amount of time, reducing scheduling time from 2 weeks to a day. Moreover, having a system that tracks all scheduling-related information such as availability, time-off requests, and shift updates improved team communication. This ultimately helped Portland’5 in a smoother delivery of their programs and events.

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