Frequently Asked Questions

What are Portals?

Portals are interconnected, immersive audiovisual environments built in repurposed shipping containers, inflatables, and custom structures. When you enter one, you are met by someone in a distant Portal and can speak to them as if in the same room.

Shared_Studios maintains a network of 40 Portals around the world and connects these spaces to one another for dialogues, performances, and collaborative activities. These connections build familiarity, empathy, and understanding between communities who would otherwise never meet.

How do Portals work?

Portals are placed in highly diverse environments, including schools; refugee sites; cultural centers; public parks; businesses; conferences; and events.

They have been applied to dozens of contexts, from casual conversations to distance education; language immersion; policy discussions; business meetings; and live artistic and musical collaborations.

What is the goal of Portals?

We have remarkable technology at our fingertips today, but too often this technology drives us deeper into our own closed communities. We connect only with those we already know, and read only those articles that resonate with our worldview.

Portals counteract these phenomena. They combine the connective potential of the internet with the intimacy of a face-to-face conversation, and provide the opportunity to connect with someone new. Whether separated by distance, perceived difference, or both, Portals bring people together for intentional and meaningful conversations. Portals provide participants an opportunity, a reason, and a context to share a space and experience. Participants can step outside of their comfort zones and speak openly with strangers, simultaneously reshaping their own beliefs and rediscovering how to walk in someone else’s shoes.

How are Portals distinct?

Unlike a video-conference software on a computer, Portals offer full-body experiences in which you make eye contact and move around the space as if in the same room. Participants have remarked on the great impact of feeling as if you have just walked into the same room as someone across the world. Portals brings people together beyond the one-on-one conversations. It reaches out to artists and thinkers to collaborate with each other, and the other people in your own city who come to the Portal may be strangers to you as well as those across the world. It fosters a sense of global, creative, and connected communities.

What is a Curator, and what do they do?

Curators connect the Portal to the world and to their local community. They staff the Portal and are present for all connections. They translate, support, and facilitate encounters to make sure all participants are comfortable and engaged.

What is the broader vision of Portals?

We are building a freely-accessible global public utility. Our aim is to link communities around the world through a network of thousands of Portals. This network of immersive spaces will become a public square for the 21st century, where people everywhere can share their stories, collaborate, and learn from one another.

How many Portals are there and where are they?

Check out our sites section for the latest.

How are Portals funded?

All Portals are freely accessible to participants, and are either funded directly by the host organization (e.g. school, government, museum), private donors, or grant funding.

Shared_Studios works with nonprofits and local community groups who may not have access to independent funding to identify opportunities for external funding. We encourage all groups interested in a Portal to reach out – even if no immediate funding is available.

How can I bring a Portal to my community, school, organization, or event?

Get in touch via our Contact page to start a conversation.